2.2.

7

THE SHOP HOUSES IN PENANG

A shop house or row house has two or more storeys and is a commercial and private structure. The tenants usually use the first floor for commercial purposes such as sundry shop, light industry or warehouses and reside in the upper floors. The building is not free standing; rather it is connected to several other shop houses to form a shop house block. This shop house is repeated to create streets and town squares found in many urban areas in Malaysia. Sometimes, the tenants use both the ground and upper floors for residential. This type of shop house is normally referred to as terrace house. In such a case, the building has a big entrance with a timber bar locked into the door head, metal – bar and louvered -panel windows on the ground floor and a few openings at upper floors. Shop houses usually have a narrow frontage between 12' to 18' and their length varies greatly from 60' to 140', topped with a pitch roof of not more than 30˚. They are often designed in a symmetrical organization in which the entrance is located in the middle with windows on both sides. A shop house is characteristically features a five – foot way (kaki lima) or veranda walkway. This covered five – foot way, typically an arched opening, joins one house with the rest on the street front. Thus, it creates a continuous walkway on the front facade of the shop house block.

Figure 2.47: The Architectural Styles of Shop Houses in elevation view

Source : www.unitar.org (2008)

.2.7.1 THE ARCHITECTURAL STYLES OF SHOP HOUSES

There are several different architectural styles of shop houses on the street of Penang, Malacca or towns in Malaysia. Some have stylistic trends of the different periods on the front facade while others have undergone renovation or used modern materials in an effort to increase their property values. All the architectural styles can be referring to the era in the country. Generally, there are four architectural styles of shop houses in Malaysia, which are:

a)

Early Shop house style (1800 – 1850’s)

Figure 2.48: Early Shop house style
Source: Field study (2008)

The front facade appears to have a continuous row of panelled or louvered shutters, timber walls and plain masonry pilasters on the upper floor. Attap was used in the early shop houses but was banned due to fire regulations and later replaced by Chinese clay tiles. The profile of these tiles has changed slightly over time from a V shape to a more rounded shape which is lighter and smaller in size. Special features of the design consist of:

1. Wood panel wall (spandrel) above the horizontal beam with minimal decoration. Later on the spandrel is made of bricks and finished with concrete.

2. V-shaped, India terracotta or clay roof tiles, before that, most used attap roof.
3. Timber support beam (in this example, the timber beam is present). 4. A row of continuous wooden shutters on the top level

5. Wooden panel doors for shop front with collapsible metal gate for security 6. Low, squat, simple two-storey terrace building

b)

Early traditional Shop house style (1850 – 1950’s)

Figure 2.49: Early traditional shop house or transitional shop house

Source: Field study (2008)

The front walls were made of masonry which became more decorative with either plaster figures or ceramic renderings. A frieze decoration right below the eaves was added displaying paintings or ceramic shard work. Louvered shutters are remained but either iron or timber grilles were inserted in the windows. The top parts of the pilasters were often enlarged to support a purlin at the end of the eaves. In the late 19th Century, the pilasters were much taller and often decorated with plaster renderings.

Special features of the design consist of: 1. V-shaped, India terracotta or clay roof tiles 2. A row of continuous wooden shutters on the top level 3. Brick wall above horizontal beam with ceramic or cast-iron air vents 4. Symmetrical timber windows with vertical iron bars on the outside for safety 5. Bat shaped air vents above the windows for ventilation 6. Plain timber door 7. Terracotta tiles with geometric pattern or plain cement floor on the 5 foot way 8. Tall and slim two storey terrace house c) Early Straits Eclectic Style Shop house (1900 - 1940).

Figure2.50: Early Straits Eclectic Shop house

Source: Field study (2008)

Moving away slowly from the constraint of neo – classical and also the early shop house styles, Early Straits Eclectic Style had thicker columns, plaster friezes that made up the facade, louvered windows with fanlights out of carved wood and also cornices. They were called eclectic for the reason that influence of various cultures made up the facade of these shop houses. Special features of the design consist of: 1. V-shaped, India terracotta roof tiles or interlocking clay tiles 2. Normally, it has three pairs of wooden shutters on the top floor, framed with decorative arches 3. Decorative glass panel (fanlight) for all windows (upstairs and downstairs) 4. The wall below upper window (spandrel) is decorated with floral design made of plaster (stucco work) 5. The head of pillars (capitals) have ornate plaster decoration 6. Bat shaped air vents above the windows for ventilation and light 7. Carved wooden door with family name plaque above the door 8. Colourful, glazed and embossed ceramic wall tiles 9. Colourful and elaborately decorated two or three storey terrace house d) Late Straits Eclectic Style Shop house (1920 – 1940's)

Figure 2.51: Late Straits Eclectic Shop house

Source: Field study ( 2008)

This was the most elaborate of all styles. Usage of plaster made up the frieze on the pillars and facade. Windows were built to the maximum to aid ventilation. Intricate timber Malay carvings were used for decoration along with Chinese panel frescoes. The development of reinforced concrete made it possible for more cantilevered details to be supported. This period actually was the glorious period of the shop houses style. Special features of the design consist of: 1. V-shaped, India terracotta roof tiles or interlocking clay tiles 2. Normally, it has three pairs of wooden shutters on the top floor, framed with decorative arches 3. Decorative glass panel (fanlight) for all windows (upstairs and downstairs) 4. The wall below upper window (spandrel) is decorated with floral design made of plaster (stucco work) 5. The head of pillars (capitals) have ornate plaster decoration 6. Bat shaped air vents above the windows for ventilation and light 7. Carved wooden door with family name plaque above the door 8. Colourful, glazed and embossed ceramic wall tiles 9. Colourful and elaborately decorated two or three storey terrace house 10. Reinforcement concrete for cantilevered details e) Neo – classical Shop house style (19th - early 20th century)

Figure 2.52: Neo – classical Shop house style

Source: Field study (2008)

This style was adapted by the Europeans so that it was suitable for the tropical climate, at the same time adhering to the strict Orders of Architecture. Ornaments were sparingly added but the Palladium system of neo – Greek columns, neo - Roman arches and domes together with Renaissance usage of parapets, copulas and turrets were common. Special features of the design consist of: 1. High ceilings 2. Wide porches and walls painted in white or pastel colours 3. Flat wall (parapet) extended above the roof 4. Simple decorative elements, geometrical design running down pillars. 5. Two storey building emphasizing horizontal and vertical lines f) Art Deco Shop house (1940 - 1960's)

Figure 2.53: Art Deco Shop house
Source: Field study (2008)

Most of the shop houses built in 1940s began to adopt the European style of Art Deco by having long and thin rectangles, circles or continuous horizontal bands on the front facade. Decorations were restrained on the front walls. Reinforced concrete is widely used to create more cantilevered plans; some were placed over windows serving as shading devices. Special features of the design consist of: 1. Flat wall (parapet) extended above the roof 2. Flagpole rising from parapet wall 3. Elongated colour glass windows with metal frame 4. Simple decorative elements, geometrical design running down pillars. 5. Geometrically designed iron window grills 6. Horizontal air vent incorporated into spandrels 7. Date of building placed strategically into spandrel 8. Shanghai plaster finish for the front wall 9. Two storey building emphasizing horizontal and vertical lines g) Early Modern Style (post World War II till 1970’s)

Figure 2.54: Early Modern Shop house

Source: Field study (2008)

Perhaps due to the austerity of war, unnecessary adornments were skipped. Modern materials were slowly replacing the old materials and methods of building. Instead of wooden frames and louvered shutters, aluminium sidings and glass shutters were employed instead. Special features of the design consist of: 1. Glass louver shutters. In this example, glass panels are used instead. 2. In case of commercial building, the signboard is incorporated into the building wall 3. Extensive use of brick and concrete 4. High parapet walls extending above the roof pitch 5. Repetitive window opening framed by horizontal and vertical concrete fins 6. Use of mosaic tiles on floor and pillars and sometimes on the walls also 7. Two or three storey building with clean and vertical lines and a lot of plain walls. 2.2.7.2 History of shop houses (Straits Eclectic Style) In the early 20th Century, shop houses in the Straits Settlements began to adopt Western architectural styles with an emphasis on full – length French windows with a pair of full – length timber shutters, an arched or rectangular transom over the window opening, pilasters of classical orders; and plaster renderings. In the early 1900, reinforced concrete was used to allow wider roof overhangs and more elaborate cantilevered brackets which sprung from above the pilasters. Unlike the early and traditional shop houses which have a continuous row of windows, the Straits Eclectic style developed with the breaking of the facade into two or three moulded openings. Such style became popular among the Peranakan Cina community in either Malacca or Penang. 2.1.7.3 Architecture style, concept and decorative elements for shophouses

In some shop houses, the pilasters placed between openings, the spaces above the arched transom and below the openings were decorated with plaster renderings such as bouquets of flowers, fruits, mythical figures and geometrical shapes. In addition, some of the window or door panels were beautifully carved. These decorations among other things reflect not only the wealth of the owners or tenants but also their status or position in the local community. One of the main differences between a Peranakan Cina shop house and a pure Chinese shop house is the presence of these highly intricate ornaments and carvings. The Peranakan Cina shop houses reached it richest phase with the addition of coloured tiles on either walls or floors. It is not known whether it was the Dutch or the Chinese who first brought or introduced ceramic tiles to Malacca. Coloured ceramic tiles are not only popular in the Peranakan Cina shop houses of the Straits Eclectic style but they are also used by the Malays to decorate their main stairs. In the shop houses, the ceramic tiles are usually placed on walls below the front windows on the ground floor facing the street. Flowers and geometrical designs are usually painted on the tiles. Furthermore, coloured floor tiles made of terra – cottas are commonly seen in the Straits Eclectic style, particularly in the veranda walkway and inside the shop houses. One may spot these features on the shop houses along Magazine Road in Penang.

Figure 2.55 : Types of decorative wall and floor tiles at shop houses.
Source: Field study (2008)

Most of the shop houses throughout all stylistic periods were built with a series of gable and pitch roofs; with the exception of courtyards or air wells and balcony. Some have a jack roof which is a raised mini – roof locating at the peak of the main roof. The space between the two roofs is filled with patterned grilles or timber louvres. It provides both cross and stack ventilation which reduces the internal heat build – up especially during day time.

Load bearing walls at both sides of the shop house support the roof load through timber purlins which span horizontally across the width of the building. The walls are at least 15" thick from ground to first floor and 9" onwards. After attap was banned, Chinese clay tiles of a V shape were widely used. The tiles are similar in origin to those used in the Mediterranean roofs, being introduced to Malacca by the Portuguese. In the early 1900's, the inter – locking French Marseilles tiles were introduced to the shop houses in the Straits Settlements. However, these terra – cotta tiles were later replaced with modern roofing materials including metal and asbestos sheets. A typical Peranakan Cina shop house usually has the first hall (ruang tamu), second hall (tiah gelap), one or two courtyards or air wells (chim chae), ancestral hall, bedrooms, bridal chamber and kitchen. In those days, visitors to the house were normally allowed to the first hall. The second hall or tiah gelap was usually used by the unmarried Nyonyas to peep through small openings dividing the first and second halls. Now, as the social life changes, the younger generation of Nyonyas no longer hide in the tiah gelap.

Figure 2.56: A small opening dividing the first and second halls
Source: Field study (2008)

Besides the presence of the intricate plaster ornaments, carving and coloured tiles; the Peranakan Cina shop houses are usually filled with antique furniture. During the colonial periods, the interior of the Peranakan Cina house was decorated with Chinese blackwood furniture including the family altar, chairs, side tables as well as ornately carved teak cupboards with intricate mother-of-pearl inlay frames. Porcelain figurines, Nyonya crockery and coloured ceramic wares were finely displayed in these cupboards. This elegantly decorated interior is a portrayal of higher social, economic and political status of the Peranakan Cina in those days.

Figure 2.57 : Interior inside the shop houses and gold door meaning wealth
Source: Field study (2008)

In the early 20th Century; apart from buildings, the Peranakan Cina also owned large acres of rubber estates and tin mines and had employed many newly arrived Chinese immigrants. However, many of the rich Peranakan Cina had suffered greatly not only from the Depression period in the 1930's but during the World War II; particularly the Japanese occupation of Malaya. During the War, they had to abandon their properties including rubber estates, shop houses and bungalows for safety reasons. After the War, the Peranakan Cina had gone a period of degeneration and deprivation. "Their identity became diluted partly as a result of the changed structure of Malaysian society and also due to the conversion of many Peranakan Cina to Christianity."

2.2.7.4

ELEMENT FENG SHUI FOR SHOP HOUSES

No Elements

Symbols

1

Earth

2

Metal

3

Water

4

Wood

5

Fire

Figure2. 58: 5 elements for roof façade: metal, wood, water, fire and earth to enhance the owner feng shui.
Source: Field study (2008)

Figure 2.59 : The shop house roof show element of metal.
Source : Field study (2008)

2.2.7.5

THE OTHER IMPORTANT ELEMENTS FOR SHOP HOUSES

Butterfly – romance and freedom

Figure 2.60: Element of butterfly as the air ventilation at the front of building.
Source: Field study (2008)

Bat – Luck

Figure 2.61: Element of butterfly as the air ventilation at the front of building.
Source: Field study (2008)

Vase – Happiness

Figure 2.62: Use vase as the decorative element for door.
Source: Field study (2008)

Bamboo – everlasting

Figure 2.63: Use bamboo as the decorative element for door.
Source: Field study (2008)

Flower (cornice at wall and door) – 4 season

Figure 2.64: Cornice in term of flower was use as the decorative element for façade and door.
Source: Field study (2008)

Pedestrian walk

Figure2.65: Pedestrian way at the colonial shophouses.
Source: Field study (2008)

The covered walkway within the shophouse property line is for public use. It providing pedestrians shade from sun and rain. This practice can be traced to the previous circumstances in South China, and also to the Royal Ordinances by Phillip II of 1573. In early Manila, two storey houses were built in rows with arcades on the ground floor which constitute to the five – foot way in now a day.

RafflesOrdinances (1822) was a key development for the five- foot way. The Raffles Ordinances (1822) for Singapore which stipulated that “all houses constructed of brick or tiles have a common type of front each having an arcade of a certain depth, open to all sides as a continuous and open passage on each side of the street”. This practice spread to other States in British Malaya and by-laws with requirements for “verandah-ways of… at least seven feet measuring from the boundary of the road and the footway within any verandah-way must be at least five feet in the clear.

This by-laws were an important element in the evolution of the shophouse building form especially in the five-foot way. They were not easy to implement since all the builders naturally wanted to build on and use as much of their land as possible. Even to this day municipal authorities have to occasionally make sure that the arcades are kept free from shopkeepers blocking the path with their goods.

2.2.8 HAINANESE MARINERS' LODGE AND PENANG HERITAGE TRUST (PHT) OFFICE
The Hainanese Mariners' Lodge accommodated itinerant Hainanese mariners and some of their families. The house was put up for rent by some of the remaining old sailors in 1998. The Penang Heritage Trust took a lease on the house and undertook a low-budget renovation to turn the shophouse into its office, now run by members and volunteers. Visitors looking for information on heritage sites, projects, tours and accommodation are welcome. The trust has a gift shop, selling heritage-related souvenirs such as antiques, books prints, postcards, T-shirts and bags. It also has a resource library and a small display on current urban conservation projects in Penang.

Figure 2.66: Hainanese Mariners' Lodge

Source: http://www.tourismpenang.gov.my (2008)

2.2.9 ARGUS LANE

The early Eurasian Catholic community lived around the Catheral of the Assumption in a kampung of Bungalows. One of these buildings was Argus House, where Penang’s first independent newspaper, the Pinang Argus, was published from 1867 to 1873. The last of these early dwellings survives at the back of the Cathedral.

Figure : Type of houses at Argus Lane Source : Field study, 2008

Figure 2.67: Argus Lane located at the back of Catheral of the Assumption

Source: Field study, 2008

2.2.10

LOVE LANE

Love Lane is full of intimate places such as the Wan Hai Hotel; the sound of which has lusty connotations, boasting the narrowest five-foot way in town. Here are a coffee shop, down the road from the Carpenter’s Guild, where construction workers congregate, and Lim Tan Tin, a workshop which carves Mah Jung tiles and Chinese dice. Formerly inhabited by Euasians who lived around the church at Farquhar Street, the Chinese who moved into Love Lane after them called it Serani Hung, or “Eurasian Lane”.

There are many theories about the origin of the name “Love Lane”. Some say this was where the sailors met the island’s ladies among the bamboo groves. The local Chinese say the rich men who lived on Muntri Street kept their mistresses here, hence the name Ai Cheng Hang. But one storey is so extraordinary that it probably has some basis in reality.Love Lane already appears in a map of 1803. The following story must belong to the earliest chapter of

Penang’s history, when there were many Shia Muslims among both the North Indian sepoys and convicts.

During the Muharram festival in Penang, the Shia Muslims staged processions to commemorate the violent death of Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, and Ali’s two sons Hassan and Hussain. The Shiite devotees performed pain-defy-ing rituals with sword, skewers and coals, much like those seen in the Hindu Thaipusam procession or the Chinese Nine Emperor Gods festival. Even more extreme forms of self-torture found in these festivals, such as swinging from tenterhooks, have since been banned.

The procession, which featured representation of the martyr’s tombs, made of paper and tinsel, tourd the Indian Muslims areas in town. It gathered the largest crowd along Chulia Street, before proceeding through Love Lane toward the north beach. There, the tabuts would be cast into the sea, and the devotees take part in the ritual bathing known as mandi safar. Onlookers could not help but be awed by this spectacle of self-flagellation, which intensified as the devotees approached the end of their procession. With each painful step they shouted the names of the martyrs, “Hassan! Hussain!” To conclude, Love Lane was given its name to remember to impressive feats of suffering undertaken here for the love of Hussain.

Figure 2.68: Love lane which as the street to separate the buffer zone and core heritage zone. The left side of the lane is in core heritage zone while the right side was in the buffer zone.

Source: Field study, 2008.