often called ‘Sino-Thai architecture’, Phuket Baba buildings are
actually similar to those found in the former British Straits
Settlements, particularly Penang.
Materials used were also similar, namely timber, terracotta tiles
and bricks, lime mortar, lime plaster and limewash.
word shophouse comes from the Hokkien word tiam-chu
which is made up of two words meaning shop and house.
shophouse traditionally has a family-run shop in front, whereas
the rest of the house serves as living and storage space.
the word shophouse can also refer to a terraced residence. In
some cases, shops and residences can be found side by side on
the same street.
front facades of the Phuket Baba shophouses are similar to those
found in Straits Settlements.
street level, a beautifully carved door is flanked by two windows,
with bat-shaped vents above and embossed glazed tiles at dado
level. Chinese calligraphy signage completes the buildings
like these on Deebuk Road and Krabi Road are the private residences
of affluent Babas. Wooden or metal palisades across the front
verandah ensure privacy and security.
the upper floor, we find the typical tropical French windows;
these only rarely open out to balconies, but instead have railings
across the lower portion.
windows are composed of arched fanlights, louvred timber shutters
above and solid shutters below. Effusive stucco ornament is found
in the surrounding plasterwork.
stucco ornaments are similar to those in the Straits Settlements,
but in addition to Chinese, Malay and/or European elements, we
occasionally also find Thai expressions. The lotus flower, a Buddhist
symbol, is a favourite motif in Phuket.
heavily sculptured column resembles that found in Thai temples.
shophouse is designed according to principles of geomancy (feng
sui). Above this front door are a number of charms strategically
placed to deflect bad spirits or negative forces. The porch wall
gives privacy to the front hall, where the family altar is positioned
against a screen. The central screen allows passage on either
side. Its purpose is to deflect negative forces that rush in head-on.
shophouse provides flexible space, multi-functional spaces. The
front hall of this formerly residential shophouse has been converted
into a restaurant.
this is a family-run business, the space is also used by the family
as a dining room.
the restaurant, the family altar still has pride of place.
second hall is used exclusively as a living space. Light and ventilation
is provided by an airwell, which has an adjoining bathroom.
masonry stove, which has been cemented over, stands in the traditional
backyard of this very long shophouse is a tranquil and picturesque