A Mini History: The Singapore Shophouse

Monday, June 6, 2011

Singapore is a truly modern city. The skyline is full of skyscrapers, shiny new malls, and cutting edge architecture. Since Singapore only became an independent country in 1965, almost all buildings were built 1960's and 1970's or after, in a frenzy to modernize and grow. One of the few exceptions to this are the shophouses which dot the older neighborhoods of the city. Many were demolished in the government's efforts to improve housing conditions and expand the economy but some do remain and many have been beautifully renovated. 

Shophouses were mainly built in the 18th century during British colonial rule, and are narrow two or three floor buildings, with commercial space on the ground floor and housing above. Many have characteristic five foot ways, or connected covered walks, in front of the houses, offering a bit of protection from the tropical sun and rain. The shophouse facades are known for their mix European Neo-Classical and traditional Chinese architectural details, their louvered wood shutters, and for their often lively paint schemes. 

It is wonderful that some of these links to Singapore's architectural past have survived and I always love to see how modern Singaporeans are living in them. I will share some of my favorite shophouse renovations in the future! 

{Photos via 1, 2, 3 and info via NY Times and Wikipedia}

xo Allison 

1 comment:

Jessie said...

This reminds me of shophouses in Malaysia where I grew up. Looks very nostalgic to me. Thanks for sharing.


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