Three storey shophouses are most common in central cores of towns and cities with higher levels of prosperity and population density, and pre-war shophouses with up to four storeys existed later in the first half of the 20th century with the advent of modern construction materials like reinforced concrete.Shophouses may nominally stretch as high as three floors in densely populated locations.This practice spread to other States in British Malaya and by-laws with requirements for "verandah-ways of...
However, it is possible that the two spaces were always usually used by unrelated persons or groups, who may be tenants or resident owners.The covered walkway along the road is within the shophouse property line but is for public use, providing pedestrians shade from sun and rain.This practice can be traced to antecedents in South China, but also to the Royal Ordinances by Phillip II of 1573.A number of reasons have been given for the narrow widths of these buildings. the idea that buildings were historically taxed according to street frontage rather than total area, thereby creating an economic motivation to build narrow and deeply.Another reason is building technology: the timber beams that carried the roof and floor loads of these structures were supported by masonry party walls.
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In early Manila two-storey houses were built in rows with arcades on the ground floor.