Friday, April 24, 2009

Shop Houses in Penang

There are over 2000 units of shophouses in George Town alone. The style ranges from early shophouses to modern. My favorite style is easily "art deco", which was all the rage in the 1920's up to the 1950's.

Features of an art deco building includes: clean vertical lines, a flag pole, free of clutter of any elaborate stucco work like eclectic style of the previous era. It is easy to clean and maintain. Some have Shanghai plaster finish on the exterior wall instead of painted plaster finish. Colored glass windows are dominant.

Shop houses in Penang are being used as private homes, shops and also restaurants. Some are very well maintained and such a delight to look at. Shop houses have air wells, which are indoor courtyards to let air flow naturally. This helped to disperse heat build up before air-conditioning was invented.

A lot of these shophouses are sadly in such a bad state and need extensive repair. Since most of them are privately owned, the local council cannot do much to enforce the owner from leaving their property in ruin. On the other hand, there are also council's property which are not properly managed as it involves a lot of politics to get anything done quickly.

Shop houses in Penang
Glossary of shop houses features

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