Soon-Tzu Speechley

Architectural Historian & Editor

Soon-Tzu is a Lecturer in Urban and Cultural Heritage at the University of Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage. His research interests include classical architecture and its reception in colonial Malaya, architectural networks in the British Empire, and Southeast Asian heritage. His doctoral dissertation was the first survey of Malayan classicism. His first book will be published by Bloomsbury in 2023.

Selected Publications

Architectural Encounters in Asia Pacific: Built Traces of Intercolonial Trade, Industry and Labour, 1800s-1950s. Edited by Amanda Achmadi, Paul Walker & Soon-Tzu Speechley. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, forthcoming 2024.

Malayan Classicism: From the Architecture of Empire to Asian Vernacular. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, forthcoming 2023.

‘Ordered spaces: classicism and the construction of racial difference in colonial Singapore’. In The Routledge Companion to Critical Approaches in Race and Architecture, edited by Felipe Hernández and Itohan Osayimwese. London: Routledge, forthcoming 2023.

The shophouses of British Malaya’. In Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories, edited by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell. London: RIBA Publishing, 2022.

A squandered inheritance’. Meanjin vol. 80, no. 4 (December 2021).

‘They will not suffer a church more beautiful than their own’. In East Asian Architecture in Globalisation, edited by Subin Xu, Nobuo Aoki, and Bébio Vieira Amaro. Basel: Springer, 2021. (Co-authored with Yeo Kang Shua, Singapore University of Technology & Design).

On Armenian Street’. In Straits Eclectic, edited by Nine. Petaling Jaya: Gerakbudaya, 2017.

‘Dire straits for Malaysia’s world heritage’. New Mandala, 29 September 2016.

Komtar: Malaysia’s monument to failed modernism’. Failed Architecture, 6 June 2016.

All that glitters in George Town’. Penang Monthly, January 2015.


Soon-Tzu has edited a number of award-winning books, specialising in titles on Southeast Asian architecture and history. Titles include: Yeo Kang Shua’s Divine Custody: A History of Singapore’s Oldest Teochew Temple (NUS Press, 2021), Jon S.H. Lim’s The Penang House and the Straits Architect 1887-1941 (Areca Books, 2015), Ruth Iversen Rollitt’s Iversen: Architect of Ipoh and Modern Malaya (Areca Books, 2015), and Khoo Salma Nasution’s The Chulia in Penang: Patronage and Place-Making around the Kapitan Kling Mosque, 1786-1957 (Areca Books, 2014).

Public Lectures & Media

Kuala Lumpur – Would You Like Rubber With That? Return Ticket, ABC Radio National, 28 October 2022.

Surveying Malaysia and Singapore’s ‘Creole Classicism’. Blueprint with Jonathan Green, ABC Radio National, 23 October 2021.

Malayan Classicism. The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, SAHGB-IHR Seminar Series, 19 April 2021.

Book Reviews

Review of Building Socialism: The Afterlife of East German Architecture in Urban Vietnam by Christina Schwenkel. Sojourn 37.1 (March 2022): pp. 159-61.

Review of Contested Space Revisited: George Town, Penang Before and After UNESCO World Heritage Listing by Gwynn Jenkins. Fabrications 31.2 (June 2021): pp. 299-302.