The Shophouse in Singapore

Last weekend I finally had the time to explore Emerald Hill, a historic neighborhood of residential shophouses just off of Orchard Road.  Although the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has not historically been known for conserving buildings, over the last decade they have made great strides to approach architectural conservation is a different manner.  The shophouse typology makes up the majority of the over 6,500 conserved buildings in Singapore. Shophouses vary in form from the earliest built around 1840, to Chinese Baroque, to the later Art Deco designs of the 1960s.  As a whole though shophouses are narrow small terraced houses, traditionally with businesses below and living space above. Today although the conversation guidelines about the structure of the buildings is quite strict the regulations about paint colors is surprisingly lose.  This has resulted in quite a variety of exteriors from completely white, to pastels, to bold tones and I even recently saw a completely black shophouse with a finish of glitter.

Personally I love to see the variety of forms and uses that these low rise buildings take in Singapore where the rest of the urban landscape is dominated by high rise towers and sprawling malls that lack the character of shophouses.  Below is a series of my photos of shophouses across Singapore.

Shophouses in Chinatown:

Shophouses in Emerald Hill:

Photo Credits: Melissa Reese.

To see the inside of a shopehouse read this New York Times article about a renovated shophouse.


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