This shophouse is located along Joo Chiat Place, in a conservation shophouse district in the secondary settlement areas of Joo Chiat and Katong in Singapore. The conservation guidelines for this area require the front portion to be conserved and restored, while the rear portion can be redeveloped to a maximum of 4 storeys. For this stretch of shophouses, the guidelines require any new redevelopment to be converted for residential purposes.
Built in the 1920s, this shophouse used to be a book shop called The Lucky Book Store. The ground floor was the retail area, while the upper level was partitioned for storage.Behind this shophouse was a long, narrow concreted vacated land. Surrounded by 3 to 4-storey service apartments and semi-detached houses, a portion of its side faces a back lane, franked by houses on both sides.
The Client are a couple, both having worked overseas and had plans to move back to Singapore. Both grew up in this Katong area and buying a shophouse in Joo Chiat was in many ways homecoming for them. This is a site where they could see their childhood days relived. And so they purchased this shophouse, along with the rear vacant land. Together with their architect friend, the plan was to convert the shophouse into a dwelling place, and to transform the concrete land at the rear into a garden where a single- storey house extension sits. The brief called for flexible usage of spaces, for visiting parents and relatives.
For the front façade, the multi-layered paint-coatings were carefully removed to reveal its original tone and colour, and protected with transparent sealers to prevent the surfaces from flaking. The fading signage ‘LUCKY BOOK STORE’, spotted on a front pillar, was retained as a reminder to what this place was.
Internally, non-structural partitions were removed so that the spaces, the old brick walls, timber rafters and floor joists, can be better appreciated. These were carefully restored, cleaned and protected. A row of cavities on the walls are left exposed to provide clues of how the spaces were once configured, indicative of floor joists supporting a mezzanine for additional storage space. Where new columns are added to support the extended roof over the dining area, these are detached from the surface of the brick walls. Interface between the old and new brick walls are made distinct to reveal the old party-wall profile. Fragments of the old boundary walls were also retained as a reference to the original site configuration.
Beyond the shophouse is the concreted land that faces a back lane. Instead of maximizing built-up areas, both the couple and architect felt the need to keep the end of this back lane visually unobstructed. This leads to the creation of a central garden space, where the neighbours now enjoy a backdrop of green oasis. The final result brings back fond memories of the couple’s childhood days – the days of living in a community where homes were interconnected social spaces; of spaces that were simple and adaptive; and how the rituals of everyday life were enriched by architecture.
Project Name: Lucky Shophouse
Architect Office: CHANG ARCHITECTS
Lead Architect：Principal: CHANG
Completion Year: 2012
Photographer：Invy & Eric Ng , Albert Lim K.S.
Born and raised in Singapore, Yong Ter's passion for architecture was discovered during his university years at the School of Architecture, National University of Singapore. Upon graduation, he sought apprenticeship with Mr. Tang Guan Bee for several years, before starting his practice, CHANG Architects, at the turn of this millennium.
In his early years of practice, he was one of the 20 architects to be selected by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore to showcase the works of young and emerging architects in Singapore. It was published in 20 Under 45: A Selection of Works by Under-45.
The practice believes that architectural design is both an intuitive and rational work of the heart and the mind, exploring new grounds by unlearning and forgetting, and self-discoveries of the basics/origin.