Category: Tourism News
Quaint charm of shophouses
THE intricate details found in each shophouse can tell heritage enthusiasts which century the shophouse was built and to whom its influence is owed.
Architect and author Tan Yeow Wooi, who specialises in heritage restoration and conservation, said shophouses were urban terrace buildings that had multiple functions from family homes to places of trade.
“There were six different types of influences on the elements and features of the shophouses dating back to the early 1800s.
“The most prominent style is the ‘Southern Chinese Eclectic Style’,” he said during his presentation titled ‘Townhouse, Shophouse, Malacca-Penang World Heritage Site’ at the Penang Island City Council hall on Sunday.
“This influence was brought about in the 1840s after an influx of southern Chinese from the Fujian and Guangdong provinces moved to Penang due to the First Opium War.
“Other influences came from Holland as noticed in the distinctive wall anchors and Portugal via Malacca, as can be seen in the ‘louvre shutters’ that were common in Portugal.”
Yeow Wooi’s presentation was part of the Penang Story Lecture series aimed at creating awareness of the history and heritage of Penang island.
The presentation was organised by the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) and ThinkCity in collaboration with the George Town Festival.
The late Tun Tan Cheng Lock’s granddaughter Tan Siok Choo also gave a presentation.
She took the audience on a visual tour of her 18th century Baba house in Malacca, showing detailed watercolour illustrations by Chin Kon Yit.
“The title deeds of my grandfather’s house suggest that it was built in 1799 by the Dutch.
“Further indications of this is that during the times of the Dutch rule in Malacca, tax was paid according to the width of the house.
“Therefore, houses were built narrow but long like my grandfather’s house,” said the authorwho started work on her book 16 years ago documenting the history of Peranakan families in Malacca.
Avid PHT supporter Rajpal Singh, 61, said the talk made him feel a connection with those who had contributed to Penang’s heritage and culture.
Friends Norliza Mohd Yasin, 45, Alisa Azlan and Auni Khalid, both 23, felt the talk was very informative.
“Being locals, we have attended many talks about Penang but this time, I got to learn so much about Malacca, its architecture and the materials used in building the shophouses and ancestral homes,” said Auni, a Universiti Sains Malaysia student.
Norliza, who works in an architectural firm, said that after attending the talk, she would now pay more attention to the intricate details of shophouses.
PHT president Khoo Salma Nasution, who was present, said it was wonderful that the different influences on the country’s heritage could be highlighted.
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