The Shophouse Foundation


The archetpal Singapore shophouse is a two or three-storey building with a commercial shop on the ground floor and living accommodations above. The ground floor sits back from the road, while an overhanging veranda is supported by a brace of columns – creating the distinctive five-footway, a feature introduced by Sir Stamford Raffles through the Town Planning Committee of 1822, as part of his town plan for early Singapore.


Shophouses were built with symmetry and orientation in mind. When possible, they were built along the north-south axis, according to the ancient Chinese belief of universal balance. Within the house, the main hail, seen as the most important part of the house, sat at the back (north) of the house while facing the entrance (south). The front of the house served as a courtyard where guests were traditionally received and entertained


Art Deco Style

By the mid-1900s, modern advances in technology in the world, as well as the post-war economy, started to exert influence on shophouse architecture. As the world was introduced to airliners, ships, and motorcar, shophouses also began to reflect the wonders of the Machine Age. The organically inspired ornamentation of the earlier periods was discarded in favor of more streamlined designs, curved corners, and strong horizontal lines. Geometric shapes, zigzag roofs, and flagpoles were also common

The Art deco shophouse style is distinguished by streamlined motifs (such as column orders, arches, and keystones) and the lesser use of decorative wall tiles. Often, this style of shophouse emphasizes proportion and composition of an entire grouping of a similar building, with a special focus on the street corners. A typical feature of the Art Deco Shophouse Style is a visible plaque bearing the date of the building’s construction

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