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Thread: Far East taps into growing designer condo trend

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    Default Far East taps into growing designer condo trend

    March 28, 2007

    Far East taps into growing designer condo trend

    Its upcoming Cairnhill project will feature daring design by top architecture firm OMA

    By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent


    A TOP European architecture firm has unveiled an eye-catching blueprint for a Cairnhill project that dramatically underlines the growing trend here for 'designer condos'.

    The daredevil design by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), a company founded by celebrated Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is a gravity-defying creation featuring four suspended towers.

    The release of the plans for the Far East Organization development was followed by news that Keppel Group is working with American architect Daniel Libeskind on two more residential projects.

    Mr Libeskind's creative juices have been unleashed on Keppel's new condo, Reflections at Keppel Bay, due for launch early next month. Keppel had indicated the project could be priced from $1,600 per sq ft (psf) to over $2,000 psf - which is higher than nearby homes.

    The premium prices such projects can command illustrate the clout a famous architect can have, a trend more evident as Singapore becomes a global city and increasingly discerning buyers look for something with star power.

    Ms Rita Soh, immediate past president of the Singapore Institute of Architects, said: 'People are beginning to recognise there is a higher value attached to designer condos.'

    DTZ Debenham Tie Leung executive director Ong Choon Fah agreed, adding that a big-name architect can entice a larger pool of global buyers. 'These are global brand names; they give the perception that they can deliver a better product.'

    The Cairnhill project is designed by OMA partner Ole Scheeren, who is working with Mr Koolhaas on the five billion yuan (S$981 million) China Central Television Headquarters project.

    OMA is famed for projects such as the Seattle Public Library and Prada stores in the US.

    Mr Scheeren told The Straits Times: 'Singapore has a very exciting late modernist architectural history. Our project emerges from a certain resonance with that while exploring a contemporary approach to building in this tropical city.'

    The 68-unit Cairnhill development will be at the junction of Scotts and Cairnhill roads.Called Scotts Tower, it will feature four towers suspended from a central core. These lifted towers reduce the building's footprint while providing for communal leisure activities at ground level.

    'It is an interesting design with some very bold concepts,' said Mr Tai Lee Siang, new president of the Singapore Institute of Architects. 'It deals very well with the challenge of designing a high-end condo on a tight site - elevating all the units to a level with good views.'

    Far East expects to launch Scotts Tower later this year. Existing projects in the Cairnhill area now fetch $1,800 to $2,000 psf, market sources said.

    Completed designer condos include The Colonnade in Grange Road by American Paul Rudolph.

    But for all the prestige a big-name architect might bring, experts said location trumps design any time.

    While they are usually easier to market, such projects also depend on the design, said an expert, pointing out that designer condos do not always command a premium. The Linear by Mr Paul Tange of Japan's Kenzo Tange Associates did not command high prices as its Bukit Panjang location was not attractive, he said.

    'Look at Orchard Scotts. It's designed by the famous Bernardo Fort-Brescia but is not selling very well,' he added.

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