Mixing Chinese, Malay and European architectures at Joo Chiat - Focillon Mixing Chinese, Malay and European architectures at Joo Chiat  | Focillon Humane ClubMade with Humane Club

Mixing Chinese, Malay and European architectures at Joo Chiat 

Published Jan 02, 2023
Updated Jan 02, 2023

📍 🇸🇬 The eclectic architecture of the Peranakan houses in Joo Chiat 

While exploring the vibrant Joo Chiat neighborhood, you won’t be able to ignore the colorful Peranakan houses along Koon Seng Road. Built in the mid-19th century by the Peranakan community, these houses (also called shop houses) are a must-see when you visit Singapore.  

With origins dating back in the 15th-century, the history of the Singaporean Peranakan community is the result of a cultural crossroads, when Chinese traders married to Malaysian local women. These beautifully preserved houses located in Joo Chiat reflect this cultural mix by blending elements of Chinese, Malay and European architecture.

Inspired by traditional wooden houses from Southern China, Peranakan houses are based on two or three storeys, with a commercial shop on the ground floor and a private accommodation above. Many have facades decorated with a little western touch, such as the festoon of flowers above the windows or corinthian capitals on pilasters.

The brightly coloured ceramics tiles decorated with chinese-inspired motifs (mostly flowers or fruits) and the ornamental wooden fringe edging the roof are also part of the Peranakan eclectic architectural style, revealing that the owners of the houses were part of the wealthy population.

The Peranakan shophouses are part of Singapore culture heritage but the city of the Lion is not the only host to these beautiful houses: Malaysia holds a large number of Peranakan houses, especially in Penang island (West coast of Malaysia).


Shin Mun Ng, « How can the cosmopolitan world of the Peranakan Chinese in Singapore be best defined ? », 2015.

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