Singapore is well known for its contemporary architectural marvels – some of which were featured in the previous issue of Home Review. But amidst the soaring heights and the glitzy facades are a host of hidden treasures that reflect the city-state’s rich historical past and the many influences that have shaped it over the centuries.
Begin exploring at Chinatown’s shophouses – the quintessential Singaporean structure that combined shops on the street level with dwellings on the upper floors.
These long, narrow blocks abutted each other on either side, with only the front facade overlooking the street and providing a relief with windows. More well-to-do families lived in similar-styled houses, but with generously proportioned spaces and multiple internal courtyards that provided light and ventilation within the linear blocks.
A prime example of these homes is the Baba House – originally belonging to a wealthy Peranakan family, the resplendent three-storeyed structure has now been restored by the National University of Singapore down to its original architectural elements, decorative features and soft furnishings.
Singapore’s long period of colonial rule is showcased in the many stately buildings that dot its city centre. Amongst these is the grand edifice of the National Museum of Singapore, built in the neo-classical style in 1887. Also impressive is the Palladian style Fullerton Hotel, whose prime river-front building includes a row of mighty Doric columns and was originally home to the city’s post office and to the elite Singapore Club.
Some other specimens of interesting historical architecture found in Singapore include a string of Art Deco buildings along Orchard Road, a former bandstand in the midst of the lush Botanical Gardens and the beautiful cast iron structure of the Lau Pa Sat market that stands in stark contrast to the towering high-rises that surround it.
Text And Photos By Kunal Bhatia