Sultan Gate Shophouses, Singapore

 

Built in the 1900s, this pair of shophouse belongs to one of the earliest shophouse style. It is generally low profile in building height, of utilitarian nature and thus has minimal façade decoration as compared to other later shophouse styles. Being strategically located at junction of Sultan Gate & Baghdad Street, it acts like a guardian house or housekeeper annex to the Istana Kampong Glam in the 1840s. Aside from its plain façade, the loading bearing brick walls are of very special interest. They are known to be ‘man-made’ cast bricks, different from those factory mass-produced bricks. And these are compacted manually by buffalos. More interestingly, next to it, is ‘Pondok Jawa’, a traditional malay kampong house (demolished in 2003) served as a lodging house and cultural hub for newly-arrived Javanese migrants. Our local favourite food ‘Satay’ was known to flourish from there, as ‘Pondok Jawa’ also functioned as base of operations for many Javanese food hawkers who brought in their local Javanese food.

*Photographed by Fabian Ong