Address:     Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Year built:   1990
Architect:    Unknown

Near the Kaba Aye Pagoda complex, the Nawaday Cinema is an arresting example of SLORC-era architecture for the entertainment industry. The contrast with the handful of cinemas downtown—from the colonial Waziya to the 1950s and 1960s-built cinema/hotel, the Thamada, for example—could not be starker.

The large golden statue is an oversized replica of the Myanmar Academy Awards trophy

If the architectural feel of those theatres immediately evokes the colonial era, in the case of the Waziya; or the enterprising optimism of the 1950s for the Thamada, then the Nawaday Cinema’s isolated location, self-contained park, expansive dimensions and swaggering golden statue reflect an entirely different vision of the city and the built environment.

A small snack shop sits in the middle of the two storey lobby
Flush openings in the wall serve as ticket counters

In that sense, the Nawaday Cinema was clearly a SLORC production. Its construction required the resettlement of more than 20,000 people that lived on the large complex, according to some sources. The cinema’s vast, rectilinear atrium and lobby would not look out of place in Naypyidaw. The trappings of government officialdom are clear in the grandiose statue out front too—a large replica of the Myanmar Academy Awards trophy. (On the other hand, the pediment crowning the building owes more to the city’s colonial heritage.) A private operator has been leasing the venue since 1997. A Chinese restaurant specialising in shark-fin soup also occupies the premises.

The generous lobby features a gallery on the second floor