Shophouse in Singapore
Shophouse in Singapore represents the architectural heritage of this country and has evolved since the British colonial era. Today thousands of shophouses have been preserved under the conservation scheme. Many have been restored, renovated and repainted in variety of colours. To many visitors, the colourful buildings are recognisable and an eye catching treat. The mix of the old and modern landscape shows the characteristic of our tiny island.
The design of shophouse is essentially a good mix of influences from the British and the local ethnics especially Chinese and Malay. The shophouses in Chinatown are influenced from the immigrants from Southern China to adapt to the local climate whereas The Peranakan shophouses are found in the eastern side of Singapore especially in Joo Chiat .The exterior of the building also depends on the wealth of the owner. As trading become more prosperous in the early 90s, the designs were elaborated. Prior to the rise of art deco in the 30s, more decorative elements were added to the shophouses.
The development of shophouse also introduce the term ” five-feet-way”, which require at least five feet clear path for pedestrian under the sheltered walkway . Shop houses are also built narrow in width but extend deeply as far as the back of the street. You will be surprise the reason behind that it was actually related to taxes! Historically, buildings were taxed according to street frontage rather than total area. How interesting is that!
Shophouses now has become a hot spot for cafe, nightspot, gallery, lifestyle shop and even boutique hotels. Here are some of our favourite shophouses that stand out in Little India and Joo Chiat.
Text & Images by: Paul Khor
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