Design of new condos connect nature with human

Martin Morden @D9-launching in second half 2017

A large botanic garden and luxury interior

Guide price is $2,300 psf

1 bedroom From only$1.8xx mil psf

Several new condominiums in Singapore have a botanical garden with 200 species of plants, a 200m-long forest trail and a hanging garden with about 32,000 potted plants are some of the green features.

A large number of developers are devoting an extensive part of their private residential projects to plants and coming up with novel ideas to green them up.

City Developments Limited (CDL) has 3 condo projects are a case in point recently.

The first, The Rainforest in Choa Chu Kang, an EC completed in 2015, was conceptualised as a "nature reserve" for threatened plant species. It has 22 native species of trees and palms and 26 native species of shrubs and groundcover.

The next is Tree House condominium at Chestnut Avenue in Bukit Panjang which has a 24-storey green facade. This condo was entered in the Guinness World Record for largest vertical garden in 2014. And the last one is Lush Acres executive condominium along Fernvale Close in Sengkang has a hydroponic farm, where residents can grow their own herbs and vegetables within a temperature-controlled environment.

Besides, 2 projects ofGuocoLand Singaporeinclude Goodwood Residence in Bukit Timah Road and Leedon Residence off Farrer Road also have set aside more than half of their land to greenery.

Martin Modern in River Valley the project developed by GuocoLand Singapore is the newest luxury condominium at district 9, is expected to be launched in the second half of this year, will dedicate over 80 per cent of its land area to a botanic garden with about 200 plant species, many of which are native to this region.

In highly dense and land-scarce Singapore, a sense of space and greenery has become a luxury, Cheng Hsing Yao who is the GuocoLand Singapore's group managing director said.

"We want to offer this something extra to our residents in our developments, whenever the terrain allows and the site is large enough." he add.

With so many condominium launches - there were 268 launches over the last five years - it is increasingly challenging for developers to come up with themes to differentiate their properties from others in the market, head of research and consultancy at SLP International Property Consultants, Mr Nicholas Mak added.

So, while some try to add a concierge service or have a wellness aspect, others put in novel green features.

"Beyond enhancing a development's aesthetic appeal, greenery also creates a better environment by reducing heat, improving air quality and filtering carbon dioxide.", a CDL spokesman adds.

Besides, many developers say that greenery adds value not just for their residents but also the public.

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For instance, Cairnhill Nine by CapitaLand, a 30-storey condominium which is one of the tallest buildings in district 9 that has a 410m-long green wall adorned with close to 32,000 pots of plants around an integrated development in Orchard Road.

Eng Tiang Wah, The CapitaLand's vice-president of developmen and design sais: "The green wall enhances the design of the development for shoppers, pedestrians and drivers passing by".

It helps that many of these green condominiums sell well.

More examples, Goodwood Residence a condo with 210 units which launched in 2010 have been sold, while 90 per cent of the 381 units at Leedon Residence have been sold since it was completed in 2015.

Sales have also been swift at other green projects including Lush Acres and The Rainforest (sold out), and Cairnhill Nine (90 per cent sold).

But would adding more greenery eat into the space for other facilities?

To get around this, CapitaLand aims to "seamlessly integrate greenery into the design", says Mr Eng.

For instance, Cairnhill Nine Condo has the roof covering the function room, wine lounge, spa rooms and reading room is greened up, so residents looking out of their balconies will not see brick-and-mortar.

ICN Design International designed the condominium such that all 450 units are housed in two 30-storey towers.

Simon Morrison who is director of ICN says This helps minimise building footprint, so that more space can be devoted to greenery.

At Goodwood Residence, utilities and services such as a basement carpark are located within the building, to reduce its impact on the project's footprint.

Maintaining such extensive greenery, however, requires effort and money.

At Leedon Residence, five full-time gardeners carry out the green spaces, which take up more than half of its total land area of 48,000 sq m and include a 200m-long forest trail.

Weeding, trimming and loosening plant beds are the daily tasks of gardeners.

Occasionally, they also have to wade into the reflective pool, which has eight palm trees inside, to pick up fallen fronds or remove flowers.

Others comes in about once a week to perform more major works such as pruning.

 

 


Ms Wahyuni Kurniawati from SCDA Landscape, the landscape architect for Leedon Residencesays thatTo make maintenance easier, most of the plants chosen are natives such as yellow flame and tembusu which are hardy and drought-resistant.

The cost is typically passed down to residents, who pay a higher conservancy/maintenance fee. According to industry sources, the maintenance fee of each unit of such green luxury developments can hit $800 or more a month. Such fees typically hover around $300 a month for projects that are less green.


Mr Mak - a property consultant said that whether these green concepts can continue as envisioned depends on whether residents want to spend the money.

He says: "After the property is completed and the management handed over to residents, and they realise the cost of such a service, then a cost-conscious committee might vote to stop it."

For now, however, many Leedon residents considered that the extra cost is worth it such as 40-year-old Janet Lin.

Ms Lin, who moved into the condominium in 2013 with her husband and two children aged 14 and 16, says her family loves the green features so much that they have been spending more time outdoors.

The forest trail, which comes with a mini-pavilion for resting as well as an outdoor fitness area is her favourite.

She says: "You cannot see any high-rise buildings and you feel like you are inside a real forest."

LUSH GREEN PROPERTIES

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CAIRNHILL NINE

Address: 9 Cairnhill Road

Description: Cairnhill Nine building comprises a 30-storey 268-unit private residence, is part of an integrated development by CapitaLand which also includes a 20-storey, 220-unit serviced residence called Ascott Orchard Singapore.

Coen Design International architect designed this condominium, it was completed last year and was introduced as a 99-year lease.

Green feature: A 410m-long green wall encloses the entire development and comes adorned with 31,570 potted plants, each fitted with automated irrigation and fertigation (injection of liquid fertilisers into the irrigation system).

This allows the plants to be safely maintained from within the building.

About 90 per cent of the units are sold. Unit price for available units starts at $2.6million.

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GOODWOOD RESIDENCE

Address: 261 Bukit Timah Road

Description: Goodwood Residence is a freehold luxury condominium comprising two L-shaped 12-storey blocks of a total of 210 units. Launched in 2010, it spreads over a land area of 24,844 sqm with about 80% of it being greenery. The project is developed by GuocoLand Singapore and its landscape is designed by ICN Design International.

Green feature: A large central lawn, about the size of 11/2 tennis courts, forms the focal point of the whole development. All apartments in the two L-shaped blocks have a breathtaking view of the lawn, a swimming pool in the foreground and a green forest of towering native trees "borrowed" from the nearby Goodwood Hill, as a backdrop.

The units are sold out.


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THE RAINFOREST

Address: 331, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3

Description: The Rainforest is a 466-unit exclusive EC with eight apartment blocks, from three to 21 storeys. This 99-year leasehold project is developed by City Developments Limited and spreaded over lush verdant grounds totalling close to 17,600 sqm. The renowned architect Ong & Ong designed the condo and it was completed in 2015.

Green feature: The development was replanted entirely with native trees and plant species to recreate a "rainforest" landscape setting. The plants were carefully selected to ensure that they attract and sustain wildlife such as butterflies and birds originally from the nearby wooded area.

The units are sold out.

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ECO

Address: 201 to 283 Bedok South Avenue 3

Description: A joint venture project by Far East Organisation, Frasers Centrepoint Limited and Sekisui House, this 99-year leasehold development over an area of more than 28,600 sq m was launched in 2012. The Eco condo comprises 714 units housed in eight blocks of 12, 15 and 16 storeys and 34 units are in three-storeyed strata terraces . Its landscape architect is ICN Design International.

Green feature: A 100m-long boardwalk, which is elevated from between 1m and 5.5m, is built along a landscape of conservation trees lining the eastern border of the development.

At the end of the trail, there is a "rain garden" which collects, filters and stores rain water runoff to be reused to irrigate the development's landscape. There is also a community plot for residents to grow and plant vegetables and herbs.

The units are sold out.

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