What Is A Shophouse?

What Is A Shophouse?

What Is A Shophouse?

A shophouse is a type of architectural building found in Southeast Asian countries, particularly in urban areas of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Shophouses are characterized by their narrow and elongated structure, which typically includes a ground-floor shop or commercial space, with living quarters on the upper floors.

The design of shophouses reflects a fusion of traditional Southeast Asian and colonial influences, and they often feature ornate details such as decorative tiles, balconies, and shutters.

Shophouses are an important part of the cultural and architectural heritage of many Southeast Asian cities and are considered a distinctive and iconic feature of the region’s built environment.

A shophouse is a type of building that serves both as a residence and a commercial business. Originating in Southeast Asia, a shophouse is a shop fronting the street and used as the owner’s home. The term became popular in the 1950s.

Shophouses can also be found in other parts of the world, such as Southern China, Hong Kong, and Macau, where they are known as Tong lau. In Sri Lanka, they are found in towns and cities.

Typically standing in a terraced configuration, shophouses often feature arcades or colonnades, giving them a distinctive appearance in Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, and South China.

History Of Shophouse?

Shophouses have a rich history in Southeast Asia, having served multiple purposes throughout time. Initially, they were multi-family homes or dormitories, with some even being transformed into large boardinghouses, known as “chophouses”.

These structures were notorious for their lack of hygiene and cramped living spaces, consisting of a maze of small rooms and compartments.

The shophouse design features a terraced layout, with a row of structures sharing walls and situated closely to one another along a street. The front of the shophouse is extended with a covered arcade, referred to as the “five foot way”, which serves as a public walkway and provides shelter from the region’s harsh weather conditions, such as the scorching sun and sudden rainstorms.

The interior of the shophouse is designed to allow for light and air flow, with the help of internal courtyards and ventilation shafts, while shutters can be used to regulate the flow of air and protect the windows during inclement weather.

Nowadays, shophouses are still used as mixed residential and commercial buildings in some parts of Southeast Asia. Moreover, there is a thriving market for the restoration of run-down shophouses, with the renovated structures fetching high prices in the real estate market in some regions.

Design And Features Of Shophouse?

Shophouses were a common urban architectural design that combined residential and business spaces. They were designed to be narrow and deep, with the front portion along the street serving as formal space for customers and the rear areas reserved for family members, kitchens, bathrooms, and other informal spaces.

These buildings also featured a veranda, which protected merchandise from rain and sun while also serving as a reception area for customers. Verandas were not typically connected to each other, but in some cases, a communal arrangement resulted in the creation of a continuous colonnade known as the “five-foot way.”

Shophouses were usually built with one to three floors and featured an inner courtyard, known as an “air-well,” for improved air circulation. The upper floors served as living quarters.

Modern Construction Of Shophouse

Modern shophouses are constructed using reinforced concrete, with loads supported by beams and piers arranged in a grid pattern. The width of the beams is determined by economic considerations, as wider beams necessitate more steel.

A plot of land measuring 40 meters by 12 meters could accommodate several configurations of shophouses, such as ten 4 meter by 12 meter units or eight 5 meter by 12 meter units.

The walls of these structures are infill, meaning they can be easily reconfigured to allow businesses to occupy multiple shophouses by removing dividing walls.

The construction process can be carried out in stages, with new rebar being tied to existing rebar to extend the beam, eliminating the need for additional piers.

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