The shophouse evolved from the late 18th century during the colonial era. A shophouse is a vernacular architectural building type that is commonly seen in areas such as urban Southeast Asia. Shophouses are mostly two or three stories high, with a shop on the ground for mercantile activity and a residence above the shop.
Traditional shophouses façade ornamentation draws inspiration from the Malay, Chinese and European traditions. Other traditions include the use of Peranakan pastel coloured glazed tiles, often with floral or geometric motifs. The degree of a shophouse’s ornamentation depends on the prosperity of its owner and the surrounding area; shophouses facades in cities and (former) boomtowns are generally more elaborate than rural shophouses, which tend to be more Spartan in design.