What Is A Five-Foot Way?

What Is A Five-Foot Way?

What Is A Five-Foot Way?

A five-foot way is a type of roofed walkway found in front of shops in Southeast Asia, which may also be used for commercial purposes. The name comes from the typical width of the passageway but the width may vary.

These walkways are designed to suit the local climate and are a characteristic feature of the region’s urban areas. They provide a covered area for pedestrians to shield from sun and rain and are often used as corridors for window shopping or finding refreshment.

Historically, they were also used by traders for small businesses. The width of a five-foot way can vary depending on the building’s age, size and purpose.

History Of The Five-Foot Way

The concept of arcades as a requirement in urban plans can be traced back to the Royal Ordinances by Philip II of Spain in 1573. In the early 17th century, Batavia (now Jakarta) became the capital of the Dutch East India Company under the leadership of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, who began constructing the city in a European style.

In the mid-17th century, Johan Nieuhof described market buildings with central galleries that were divided into “five walks” or galleries. It is speculated that these “five walks” referred to the kaki lima, a space rather than a width of passage.

Under the British East India Company’s rule during the Napoleonic War, Thomas Stamford Raffles was appointed the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies and observed the verandahs, footways, and continuous eaves of Batavia.

Raffles is credited with ordering the construction of five-foot wide walkways in front of shops in Batavia and later in Singapore, where the five-foot way became a prominent architectural feature in the region. Ordinances and by-laws mandating these verandah walkways were implemented in the Straits Settlements and Malayan towns in the 19th and early 20th century, although they were referred to as arcades, verandahs, or five-foot-paths.

Significance Of The Five-Foot Way

The five-foot way is an important architectural element of Southeast Asian cities. It has distinctive cultural and historical significance, particularly in Malaysia and Singapore. This narrow covered walkway creates a sheltered space at the front of shop houses, offering pedestrians protection from sun, rain, and other elements.

Moreover, it provides vital public space for a variety of uses – such as dining as well as social activities like conversations among friends and neighbors.

In addition to being an important part of everyday life in these cities, the five-foot way serves as a physical reminder of the vibrant culture that has shaped this region for generations.

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