Naypyitaw: An Approach

Heinz Schütte & Wolfgang Bellwinkel


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  • JB. Institute
  • 2019
  • 96 pages
  • Perfect bound softcover
  • 31 × 24 cm

Among capitals created ex nihilo such as Brasilia, Canberra, Islamabad, Putrajaya or Astana, Naypyitaw, Myanmar’s seat of government since 2005, stands out as unique. The sociologist Heinz Schütte and the photographer Wolfgang Bellwinkel have attempted to concentrate their joint study on the new capital within the continuum of Myanmar’s history and on the political circumstances under which it came into being.

In their book which was launched in Yangon in January, they show the regime’s understanding of its role and mission in the history of the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar and its attempt to perpetuate military hegemony even under the fragile conditions of a democratic opening. Will it ever be possible to adapt the intimidating spatial layout and the dissociating architectural forms of Naypyitaw to the requirements of a future society in which pluralism and civic participation may become the rule?

Essay and photographic representations both view and interpret the surface of the settlement structure and search for the underlying layers of meaning. The result is an interpretation by two outsiders whose points of reference are European and Asian urban structures which they fail to discover in Naypyitaw. Nevertheless, they propose that the logic of Naypyitaw can be traced to Myanmar’s ethnic and religious policies pursued ever since the first unification of the empire with its capital Bagan under King Anawrahta in the 11th century.