August 2, 2010

Penang shophouse internal courtyard



There are six styles of Penang shophouses, according to the Cultural Heritage Action Team (CHAT) Penang Shophouse blog: Early "Penang" Style (1800s-1850s); "Southern Chinese" Eclectic Style (1840s-1900s); "Early Straits" Eclectic Style (1890s-1910s); "Late Straits" Eclectic Style (1920s-1940s); Art Deco Style (1930s-1950s); and Early Modernism Style (1950s-1970s).  A shophouse is a mixed-use building with a shop on the ground floor and housing on the upper floors.  One of the characteristic features of a shophouse is an internal courtyard.  The courtyard pictured above is in the shophouse that houses the Jin Xiu Art and Tea House in Georgetown, the capital of Penang, Malaysia.

I think the tea house was built in one of the "Straits" styles -- probably the "Late Straits" style.  A visual guide of shophouse styles can be seen here.  Although designed to bring light and air into a narrow, deep structure, one can imagine the possibilities for rainfall run-off management.  Intrigued by this idea of architectural stormwater runoff management, I conducted a web search and found the "house with pools on the roof" in Bodrum, Turkey designed by Global Architectural Development.  The pools are filled via rainfall.   

Let's not forget cisterns.  The cistern has been used since BCE for managing water for uses such as drinking, cooking, irrigation.  The City of Palo Alto offers a $0.15 cent/gallon rebate for stormwater runoff cisterns with maximum rebate amounts of $1,000 for residential and $10,000 for commercial. One Palo Alto resident who has taken advantage of the city's rain water rebate -- in a big way -- is Susan Rosenberg, a former board member and c-founder of the urban forest nonprofit, Canopy.  Rosenberg installed a 14,000 gallon, underground cistern to capture stormwater from "the building roof and a portion of the yard for reuse as landscape irrigation water."  The City of Palo Alto received a 2009 Site Design Award for this cistern.

Do you know of other examples of architectural stormwater management?  Let us know in the comment section.

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