The echo of monumentalism, law and order
The 22 sandstone pillars were shipped from England as was 3,000 tons of steel to construct the framework for the New Law Courts and Police Commissioner's Office on Strand Road, replacing the old law courts that had been there since 18070. The architects Thomas Oliphant Foster and Edwin Lutyens were so proud of “the city's finest, most modern building” that when it opened in 1931 the drawings were displayed at the Royal Academy in London.
When the Japanese occupied Myanmar during World War II, this building was the headquarters of the much-feared Kempetai, Japanese secret police. After 1974, the building became the headquarters for the Burma Socialist Programme Party.
The classic edifice was sold to private investors in 2012 despite the protests of a group of Burmese lawyers who wanted to see the building remain in service of the country's justice system. After a five-year-long US$50 million renovation a revamped luxury Rosewood Yangon hotel opened in 2019. “I first came to Yangon in 1999 and fell in love with the country. I like its authenticity,” says Supalak Foong, one of the investment partners. Lilian Wu, who was in charge of the interior design agrees: “When a project has such a strong history its much more poetic and romantic than doing a new development”.