Shop houses—a historical source of delight and nostalgia—are a prevalent building type in Singapore’s architectural and built heritage. They are also commonly found throughout the historic cities of South East Asia. They are narrow, small terraced houses, with a sheltered ‘five foot’ pedestrian way at the front. These buildings can be used for both business and living. Constructed between the 1840s and the 1960s, these shop houses formed the majority of the pre-WW2 urban fabric of the old city centre as well as several other parts of Singapore. These buildings are generally two- to three- storeys high, built in contiguous blocks with common party walls. Shop houses therefore form the bulk of our gazetted conservation buildings. The shop houses still around today have been carefully restored and conserved according to our conservation guidelines.



Once the ancestral home of a Straits-Chinese family, the NUS ‘Baba House’ located at No. 157 Neil Road, is an example of an architectural beauty that has been carefully restored by the URA to illustrate conservation best practices. . It is one of the last few untouched Straits-Chinese Houses in Singapore.

Not only has its façade been revived with original ornamental details, the restoration also showcases the 1920s domestic culture of the Straits Chinese community in Singapore. Welcoming visitors to the Baba House are the wooden half doors or pintu pagar, a typical cross-cultural feature that used to be common in Singapore’s historic residences.

The main hall features elaborate and intricately carved structures of floor to ceiling screens and partitions.

The Baba House is representative of the visual interest that a well restored shop house can provide to our urban landscape, and at the same time, remind us how these shop houses are representative of Singapore’s unique cultures and aesthetic tastes.



Typical Shop house



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