Kuala Lumpur (1960-1970)/ Shophouse and Petaling Street (Chinatown)

Petaling Street (Chinatown) nowadays
Petaling Street (Chinatown) nowadays
Shophouse in Petaling Street
Shophouse in Petaling Street

Shophouse is a vernacular architectural building type of commonly found in Southeast Asia. They are found in towns where Chinese immigrant settled. Since Kuala Lumpur is a one of the most significant agglomeration of Chinese immigrant. Shop house is commonly found in the Chinese settlement, which the White and the Malay called it China Town.

The shophouses are two to three storeys high. As told by its name, the buildings serve both functions with retail on the ground and residential on the upper floors. The shophouses has a short frontage but a long depth which is two three times to the frontage. The set back of 5 foot on the ground allows a covered walkway for the pedestrian. The design also enables the residents to gain space back from the corridor and the internal courtyard for ventilation.

The Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur being the origin of the town, has a long history in terms of urban development and community formation of Kuala Lumpur. Due to the change in composition of population and construction of national Islamic architecture, the importance of Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur has been diluted. Major commercial activities started to move to other places.

Moreover, due to the New economic policy, the preserve of Malaysian Chinese culture is not emphasized. The naming of Chinatown to Chinese settlement around Petaling Street faced resistance from the Chinese community because this alienated the community to be a place inhabited by Chinese immigrants which is not agreed by Malaysian Chinese that are no longer “immigrants” but part of Malaysian.




Yat, M. L. (2013) Architecture and Urban Form in Kuala Lumpur. England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

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