Architecture of Chinatown

Singapore’s Chinatown is a cultural area that primarily features uniquely Chinese cultural components and a historically devoted cultural population of Chinese individuals. Chinatown is situated within the larger district of Outram. The overall architecture of Chinatown’s different buildings, the shops and stalls in particular, has combined different elements of Victorian Architecture and Baroque Architecture and do not have a single division.


A number of these buildings were constructed in the style of painted ladies and have been renovated in that similar fashion. The styles aforementioned bring about an assortment of different colours of which pastel is most domineering. Pagoda Street, Temple Street and Trengganu Street as well as the houses in Club Street and some developments in Upper Cross Street are some of the many buildings that exhibit the types of architecture mentioned before.

Boat Quay which was formerly a slave market found along the Singapore River has the most mixed style shops and stalls on the country. The constructions of terraces that can be currently found in Pagoda Street were initiated in the year 1843 when land titles were issued. These terraces were initially made back to back, a situation which made collection of night soil tricky; however a number of lanes were developed in between after the Singapore Improvement Trust or SIT backlane orders were made in 1935.


The structural architectural characteristics of a number of terraces that can be found in Chinatown is much more Italian in style when compared to those found in Petain Road and or Emerald Hill among others. Most of the windows appear as small slits with narrow wooden jalousies which are most often installed with adjustable slats. The fanlights that are placed over the windows are commonly somewhat decorative in nature.

The balconies, plasters, colours and plasterwork appear to be Mediterranean in theme and flavour. The style was possibly presented by Chinese immigrants who had knowledge regarding Portuguese architecture of places such as Malacca, Goa and Macau. The Tamils and Chettiars coming from Southern India could have possibly been familiar with European inspired architecture there. The architecture of Chinatown was inspired several different cultures and civilisations that came to recognize Singapore as their home.

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