Chloé Macary-Carney cm-c
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THE STORIES OF AHLONE
The Stores of Ahlone are three projects in the Ahlone district of Yangon, Burma; the market, Shan Lan station and the streets of Ahlone . This was my master's diploma project at the ENSAPLV, developed in the studio "The Tropical Condition" led by Olivier Boucheron, Christiane Blancot and Camille Roualt between February and July 2018. We visited Yangon in February of 2018 and came back to Paris to develop projects based on our research and analysis. There was no brief. The need for these interventions seemed to appear on their own through the on-site observations and the developments of our research. I focused on the Ahlone District, an area just north-east to the historical city center created by the British colonizers in the 1850s. Yangon is a city that was born modern when it was built according to Alexander Fraser’s grid plan. It became one of the most cosmopolitan cities of its time, more active than even New York city. The project focuses on the stories of three important locations located along a walk on a long street that crosses the district, Thit Taw Street. The histories of Ahlone are interconnected. They tell the story of a post-colonial city struggling with independence. A city once conquered by British colonizers and only recently open to the rest of the world is today trying to develop its economy and infrastructure. Inspired by foreign models, the local city government, somewhat ignorantly, destroys local history and culture for profit and the interest of international investors all the while forgetting to consider local climate. In the past few years, new projects and interest has been popping up around the circular train line. In February 2018, Myanmar Railways selected a 2.5-billion- dollar redevelopment project for the Yangon Central train station to become a transportation «hub». If we imagine that the circular train will be modernized with a faster train system, I propose to rehabilitate the Shan Lan station to make it more accessible for people who must go to the hospital, all the while readapting this station to the tropical climate. Furthermore, I would like to recognize this natural space in front of the station as a proper public plaza, by making it bigger and installing a proper ground so that handicapped people may easily use this space. By installing cotton fabric roofs on lightweight bamboo structures, I would provide shaded spaces where people can dwell. These cotton roofs would be dyed with local indigenous Acacia to provide shade. The new plaza ground would be made of locally produced glazed bricks, with motifs inspired by traditional Mon ( Burmese people ) pottery from centuries ago. The train station facade which is currently covered with plants, would be renovated with these same ceramic pieces to give it more visibility and presence in the city. Today, the station is not very comfortable and the space in front of it is dilapidated but maybe tomorrow Shan Lan station could become a busy central access point of the city with a comfortable public space for all to rest in the shade. I propose to install real sidewalks and large trees to protect the pedestrians. These locally produced brick sidewalks would be permeable, meaning they can absorb rain and humidity in this tropical climate, allowing the water to once again return to the earth. The new trees would add shade and protection from the rainfall, significantly decreasing the temperature of the street in this year-round hot climate. On the main streets, the sidewalks are made wider by replacing parking space with sidewalk space. This gives space to street vendors all the while creating safe passageways for pedestrians and allowing cars to flow more easily now that pedestrians can walk on the sidewalk instead of the street. Today, these streets are made for cars, not for humans but maybe tomorrow we could re-adapt the public space to the local climate and local people so that it may become a human space. I propose to freeze the construction where it is today and use what is already in place to make a market that can work for the vendors, the goal being to bring them closer to the street space with extensions. The market would become an open public space where everyone could circulate freely, with more room for different types of vendors via the installation of real sidewalk spaces and empty spaces for street vendors to park. The roof of this market (today made of cheap metal that heats under the sun), would be replaced with a locally produced tile roof, glazed with celadon, to ensure a better ventilation. Today, the vendors of the Ahlone market resist the city’s new market but maybe tomorrow, after rehabilitation, the market could become their own; a welcoming space for all types of vendors, mobile or fixed.
THE STREETS OF AHLONE  The neighborhood is organized in a grid made of «blocks,» a city planning model installed in Yangon by the British colonizers. With the very recent and increasingly rapid density of the Ahlone District, the tall trees of the past seem to disappear with each successive new construction. The already thin streets seem to be more and more filled with parked cars, leaving no room for the traditional potted plants that used to sit in front of homes and no room either for pedestrians who represent the majority of locals ( most cannot afford a car). In a not so distant past, these streets were the spaces where children played, vendors sold their fresh coconuts and neighbors conversed.
SHAN LAN STATION  The Shan Lan station is actually the station of the central city hospitals; it is surrounded by the central woman’s hospital, built in 1887, and by the children’s hospital. It’s a rare space in the city with a natural dirt ground and a huge banian tree that offers shade. This place in front of the station serves as the entrance to the neighborhood called Gymkhana, the neighborhood of the workers of the hospital, named after the old colonial Gymkhana club of Rangoon founded in 1860 to promote sports and exercise. The Shan Lan station is therefore an important spot for the city, it connects the city to the greater Rangoon area with the circular train that runs here since 1954.
AHLONE MARKET When we discover the Ahlone market for the first time, it is hidden, it is surrounded by vendors who are set up on the street, something curious is happening here : the market’s construction is complete, yet the vendors stay in place, they are resisting. For more than 40 years, these vendors used to sell in a wooden market that stood here before the local government of Yangon, the YCDC, decided to rebuild several markets in the city as part of their big «clean the streets» project. The vendors complain because the market is built on multiple levels, it is not well ventilated nor adapted to their needs. They need to be next to the street, next to the pedestrian.