Joo Chiat, renowned as a Paradise for Peranakan food, is also in recent years, known for its conservation of quaint shophouses. 92-102 Joo Chiat Place is a row of 6 units of 2nd transitional style shophouses that has been gazetted for conservation by URA under secondary settlement category. These shophouses were bought over and commissioned by the owner to ONG&ONG for skillful restoration as well as to integrate modern lifestyle amenities into the house.
Out of the 6 units, the 2 corner ones are of the same facing and layout whilst the 4 intermediate units have the same facing and layout. As such, the 2 corner units namely #92 and #102 are designed with the same concept (Spiral staircase) and units #94 to #100 are created with the same design (Linear Staircase).
Background: Shophouses usually have very narrow frontages. This particular stretch is no different. The basic orientation of the house was straight-forward: a double-storey shophouse. The first storey housed one huge living room with a backyard. There was no kitchen allocated. i.e. the cooking area used to be incorporated into the backyard. Going up the stairs led to one bedroom on the second storey with no attached bathroom. The entire row of shophouses was in a very bad, termite-infested state.
Conservation: The first storey of the house and frontage is what really contribute to the intrinsic character of the building. Therefore the architect was very careful in its restoration of this row of shophouses.
Maintaining essential character of the building
Structure of the house: The existing condition of the house was infested with termites and caused the building to be structurally unsound. In order to strengthen the existing supports of the house, it was reinforced with new steel beams and columns.
The party walls were also added with structural columns and harder wood was used to replace the existing timber because it is not so susceptible to termite and also to prevent future infestation.
Main Façade: As the timber on the windows and doors were infested with termites, they could not be retained and had to be reconstructed. A photography survey was done beforehand to ensure that the newly constructed façade does not deviate from the original look. The double casement windows and the front doors on all six units were all carefully reconstructed to retain the inherent look and thereafter a modern palette of grey and white was used for all to maintain uniformity.
External Ceiling: Existing ceiling of the five-footway was a beam of wooden planks with florescent lightings. In order to improve the walkway ambience, a plasterboard was introduced to the ceiling to enhance the streamlined look as well as to conceal the use of the electrical conduits and provide acoustic insulation.
Five Foot-Way: The five foot-way is a very important feature of the conservation exercise as it is one of the main elements and contributed to the charms of the shophouses. It is a walkway meant to shield pedestrians from the elements. Thus, it was extremely important that the floors on the five-footway was restored with a non-slip material; in this case, pebble wash. Joint lines were created according to the lines of the house to give rhythm.
Floors: Terrazzo was cast in-situ to replace the original mosaic tiles as it is easier to maintain and it complemented the modern, clean look lines of the house. The white flooring also instantly brightened up the entire living area and brings back colonial terrazzo look.
Kitchen: A portion of the backyard was allocated to make way for a kitchen. The kitchen was done up in stark white and fitted with modern lifestyle amenities complete with an island which doubles up as a dining table.
Taking into consideration that the intermediate units suffer from a severe lack of natural light and ventilation, the kitchen is incorporated into the courtyard to enjoy plenty of sunlight and ventilation. The skylight is also designed as one that opens all the way up to maximize the circulation of sunlight and ventilation.
Staircase: The original staircases as shown above were structurally unsound. These internal staircases were demolished to make way for modern designs such as the spiral staircase which gave the entire house a contemporary look. The linear staircases featured in alternate units were modern and contributed to a clean and streamlined look.
Spiral and linear staircases were an important part of the restoration process as they changed the interior designs of the shophouses dramatically in order to adjust to the current needs of the homeowners.
Family Room: The staircase leads to a family room which had been partitioned from the master bedroom. Previously, it was a large common space containing one common room.
The creation of this family room was necessary to provide privacy to the occupants on the second floor as it is a circulation space in which the staircase will continue to lead one to the mezzanine floor.
Bedrooms: The existing bedroom located on the second storey was given a major facelift by replacing the existing wooden planks with timber flooring. The original paint was carefully scraped off to ensure that the new walls that were repainted white would have a smooth surface and be less prone to cracking. Adhesion to the new paint would also be enhanced. By painting the room white, the room is instantly brightened up. The original timber beams were kept exposed to retain the conservation charm.
2nd bedroom: Complying to the regulation of a minimum setback of 1500mm from the inner face of the front facade wall, a new roof mezzanine area was added between the jack roof and the second level. This created additional space for another bedroom. This bedroom is fitted with a walk-in wardrobe and an additional bathroom.
Bathroom: Previously, there was no attached bathroom in the master bedroom. An extension for the attached bath was created across the room. In its place, lies a bathroom with the same timber flooring carried across from the bedroom so that it has a seamless look. Fittings chosen are in white to contrast with the dark wood flooring and the travertine walls in the shower.
Interior Ceiling: The existing structure of the ceiling was done up in timber wooden rafters but after restoration and termite treatment, a spanking new curvilinear ceiling takes over its place. This gives a rhythmic movement to the room.
Conclusion: In conclusion, there is quality restoration to this row of shophouses. Nostalgic elements such as the five foot-way and the look of double casement windows were retained. Careful evaluation survey work was carried out before any restoration work was done to ensure that the innate laidback charm of the building is preserved.
Restoration work that was carried out was also done with utmost respect to the surroundings. This is because restoring a conservation building is more that just preserving the external façade. It is restoration that is being sensitive to the fabric of the neighbourhood without destroying the character and charm.
Location: 92-102 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore
Architect: ONG&ONG Pte Ltd