Originally built by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott at the behest of the London Power Company, Battersea Power Station was considered one of the world’s largest brick structures until the 1940s. The massive coal-fired power plant, situated on the southern estuary of the River Thames, is well-known for its imposing four-chimney structure; and its pervasive status in pop culture. (It features prominently in the cover art for Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals, and more recently, was an important shoot location in the 2008 film The Dark Knight.)
Now, 37 years after being decommissioned, the ‘Temple of Power’ has emerged from years of redevelopment as one of London’s most exciting new lifestyle, living and heritage destinations. Work on the long-defunct Battersea master site has been overseen by a consortium of Malaysian developers (i.e. SP Setia, PNB, Employees Provident Fund, Sime Darby Property) with Circus West Village — the first phase of the project — recently completed.
This regenerated neighbourhood is currently home to over 1,000 residents: A vibrant community made up of hundreds of homes and various retail and dining outlets, against a backdrop of the Thames and the original Power Station building. Reportedly one of the fastest-selling developments when it was first offered to the public in 2013, Circus West offers the sort of well-rounded living experience that has since become a benchmark for premium estates in London: residents occupy a variety of one to three-bedroom flats or a handful of exclusive waterfront penthouses, all of which confer access to the Riverhouse members’ club.
The best, however, is yet to come, as Battersea management continues to work (amid the unique challenges of London’s post-lockdown environment) through the second and third phases of the development.
At the centre of phase two is a top-to-bottom refurbishment of the Power Station itself, with architecture firm WilkinsonEyre instructed to infuse the original Art-Deco structure “with a 21st century sensibility.” Currently scheduled to open to the public in 2021, the Power Station will house 253 new apartments in addition to a multi-storey retail complex (mocked up above). Among a host of big international names, Apple has announced it will move its London campus to the building.
Despite still being in the preliminary stages, Prospect Place is already being hailed as an extremely important project for Gehry Partners — the firm’s first private residence in the UK. It’s reported — in the convention of the traditional London townhome — all buildings will be built with access to a private garden; whereas every individual apartment will have access to its own terrace or winter green space.
It has been six months since CoViD-19, and the idea of waking up at your ‘workplace’ has become the norm. According to a Singapore survey done across 9,000 respondents, nine in 10 employees want to continue working from home in some capacity.
Indeed, an increasing number of offices don’t see the work-from-home situation as a fleeting one. An expanding directory of firms, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and MasterCard are making plans for a permanent shift to remote working even after the effects of the pandemic die down.
This shift to remote working has led to an increased conversation of the flexibility of home offices and workspaces, as well as future home planning. Indeed, flexible housing has the potential to be a design-led solution that suits the needs of a broader cross-section of society while accommodating to the needs associated with 21st-century living.
According to Dora Chng, General Manager (Residential) at Guocoland, “Flexibility is an important factor in the post-CoViD-19 landscape where homes suddenly have to accommodate two working parents and their children undergoing home-based learning. Homes that are people-centric and are able to help owners adapt quickly to changing life demands will be an attractive proposition moving forward.”
Intrigued, we sat down with Chng to understand more about what ‘people-centric homes’ mean and how flexible spaces will pave the way for future homeowners.
Hi Dora, tell us a little about yourself and GuocoLand.
DC: GuocoLand is an award-winning regional property developer with operations in Singapore, China, Malaysia, Vietnam as well as the United Kingdom and Australia through strategic partnerships. Headquartered in Singapore, the Group’s portfolio comprises residential, hospitality, commercial, retail and integrated developments. In Singapore, we have successfully developed 36 residential projects resulting in approximately 11,000 apartments and homes.
As General Manager (Residential) at GuocoLand, I am responsible for the conceptualisation and implementation of the company’s sales and marketing strategies for its residential properties portfolio, including Wallich Residence, Martin Modern, Meyer Mansion, Leedon Residence, Goodwood Residence and Midtown Bay, the residential component of Guoco Midtown, GuocoLand’s latest mega integrated development.
I am also involved in the product development, product positioning and communications strategy of GuocoLand’s residential properties.
The CoViD-19 situation has led to nearly the entire workforce working from home. Moving forward, do you think that this situation is something that will be the norm in the future?
Since Singapore entered into the circuit-breaker period, it has become more apparent for homeowners to have the flexibility to create workspaces at home. This will very likely continue even after the pandemic is over.
GuocoLand’s residential properties like Wallich Residence and the newly launched Meyer Mansion tap into flexible spaces in its design and layout. For the uninitiated, could you explain a little more on what flexible spaces mean in residential properties?
When designing our luxury properties, one key principle we abide by is ‘people-centrism’ — ensuring our properties enhance the lives of people. One aspect of our people-centric property designs is the concept of flexible usage which allows owners to have a choice in converting the space. While there are some commonalities in the flexible attributes of our designs, each project is different.
For instance, the facilities at the exclusive 181-unit Wallich Residence, which sits atop Singapore’s tallest building, Guoco Tower, support working from home, with a “boardroom in the sky” at level 52 and private, formal dining rooms to host business associates.
As for Midtown Bay, it was designed to give homeowners the flexibility to use their apartment for multiple purposes — living spaces, home office and entertainment.
It has been intentionally planned such that the balcony floors are flushed with that of the living room, extending the living space seamlessly so much so that an eight-seater dining table can be placed at the balcony space of a two-bedroom apartment. This frees up space in the living area for the homeowner to create his or her workspace.
Another unique offering of Midtown Bay is its two- and three-bedroom duplex units, which offer great flexibility of usage.
With these duplexes, homeowners get a choice to design their home solely as a residence or to design it for dual-use, such as having the lower level set up as a home office, while the upper level is kept private and comfortable for living and sleeping.
Why do you think flexibility is so important in home design?
Having a home with the flexibility to adapt is vital to allow owners to accommodate various use of the space, based on changing demands of the moment and different phases of life.
For instance, homeowners at Wallich Residence are mainly business owners and entrepreneurs who own several properties around the world. They use the apartment as a private office and residence when they travel to Singapore a few times a year. The environment at Wallich Residence provides a business-like setting that is suitable for them to meet associates, staff and host meetings using the facilities provided — such as the function rooms and dining rooms.
Homes that have been designed with flexibility from the ground-up will provide homeowners with greater control to adapt spaces for work-from-home needs, thus enabling them to achieve closer work-life integration — which also means greater work-life balance.
The idea of flexible spaces isn’t commonly designed and considered in residential properties — if it really is that advantageous, why do you think other developers aren’t putting much emphasis on it?
Building flexible design into homes increases the cost of development and interior design of projects. GuocoLand takes on the additional investment in many of our residential properties.
Apart from flexible spaces, what are some aspects that professionals and HNWIs can take into consideration when selecting a home?
Apart from the traditional factors like location and price, other factors that HNWIs and prospective homebuyers can consider are quality of the project, flexibility in design, the extent of gardens and landscaping for wellness, and the community around the development.
For instance, Wallich Residence only has 181 units, making the residential community naturally very exclusive. This exclusivity will give rise to a unique international community living there. For many of these HNWI, what is important to them is not just the high quality of the apartments and spectacular views, but also about the neighbourhood community.
Another factor is the long-term growth prospect of development. With Wallich Residence part of the integrated mixed development named Guoco Tower, the combination of commercial, residential, office, and hospitality components have propelled Tanjong Pagar as one of Singapore’s most premier business and lifestyle districts.
We’ve heard that there are new projects on the line for GuocoLand, would you mind sharing with us a little more about that?
Our current projects include Martin Modern, Meyer Mansion and the mega integrated development Guoco Midtown with two residential components namely Midtown Bay and the Tan Quee Lan residential development.
Guoco Midtown is GuocoLand’s second integrated development following Guoco Tower, our flagship development at Tanjong Pagar and Singapore’s tallest building with the 181-unit Wallich Residence at the apex. Guoco Midtown will become an exciting new landmark in Singapore with multiple towers, buildings and gardens sprawled across an expansive footprint of 3.3 hectares.
Our latest project is the new 30-storey residential development at Tan Quee Lan Street, located right above the Bugis MRT interchange station. It will have two residential towers with more than 500 units of luxury apartments as well as a retail podium with food and beverage establishments open to the public.
With Kuala Lumpur booming on the Southeast Asia property scene, there’s never been a better time to get your foot in the door. And by door, we mean one of the luxury sky-rises shooting up around the city as developers flock to transform the skyline of the bustling Malaysian capital.
Those shopping around will likely already know of 8 Conlay, one of the brand new developments in Kuala Lumpur, an integrated high-res located in the heart of the city. Designed by celebrity designer Kelly Hoppen and Hong Kong-based architect Steve Leung, the luxury accommodation consists of three towers atop a four-storey lifestyle retail podium, and has the distinction of harboring the first and only five-star Kempinski Hotel in Malaysia as well as the world’s tallest twisted twin residential housing branded serviced residences, YOO8 serviced by Kempinski.
What else makes this property a truly unique addition to KL? We chat to Joanne Kua, Chief Executive Officer of KSK Group (the Malaysian lifestyle property developer of 8 Conlay), to dig deeper into the concept and inspiration behind the landmark project.
Tell us a bit about the background of 8 Conlay and the motivation behind this development.
8 Conlay is the inaugural development of KSK Land, a Malaysian lifestyle property developer with the vision to craft bespoke properties that prioritise design, craftsmanship and lifestyle. Scheduled to open by the end of 2020, this integrated development is located on nearly four acres of freehold land in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, consisting of three towers atop a four-storey lifestyle retail podium, featuring the first and only five-star Kempinski Hotel in Malaysia and the world’s tallest twisted twin residential towers devoted exclusively to branded serviced residences called YOO8 serviced by Kempinski.
Branded residences are a level above typical premium residences, a splice between a high-end condominium and a luxury hotel that caters to every whim, fancy and need of the resident. 8 Conlay is not a traditional building. We are designing for the future, and wanted to create something unique that will not fade over time. We wanted a building that is timeless. We wanted to create a building with architecture that is liveable.
What makes KL’s market primed for this opening? Is there major demand for luxury residences offering this shared experience?
There is an upward trend of high net worth individuals globally forecasted to rise by 22% over the next four years according to a 2019 Wealth Report by Knight Frank. As global wealth creation expands, the demand for luxury branded residences in key market centres such as Kuala Lumpur will undoubtedly rise.
At the YOO8 residences, the concept of building vertical communities will promote community relations amongst the residents through the facilities floors by Trop, liveable architecture that stands in time and the ‘confluential’ experience of 8 Conlay Kempinski connecting local experiences to locals and foreigners alike.
Luxury residences have long term value and are considered safer investments. The global recognition of the brand attached to luxury branded residences provides a sense of security in the investment.
How is 8 Conlay set to elevate the art of living for its residents?
The idea is that you walk into 8 Conlay and into YOO8 and everything is there, ready for you. It is like entering a Kempinski suite, but the suite belongs to you. Services are at your beck and call. Time is the most important luxury these days. So everything in our project has been thought out to be the most convenient for the buyer, so they can focus on the luxury of time.
The lifestyle at YOO8 Serviced by Kempinski is about the power of placemaking. Placemaking is a way we bring areas forward. It’s about watching people designing their own homes, creating new hubs, a world where people share similar aspirations.
Tell us about some of the main selling points of the development.
8 Conlay is an ambitious mixed-used development that will be the world’s tallest twisted twin residential towers in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle. Three towers will pierce the skyline when the project is complete – two of which are branded residences – anchored by a base of ‘lifestyle retail quarters’.
Exclusive design concepts mark the identities of the two branded residences — Hong Kong-based Steve Leung brings his Asian aesthetic to Tower A while British celebrity designer Kelly Hoppen’s creative handprint can be seen in Tower B. This gives potential buyers a wide range of options to choose a home from, a home that really suits them and their individual sensibilities.
For example, as Leung’s style is evocative of a modern urban space as well as a tranquil retreat, YOO8 Tower A exudes a sense of calm, bringing together the best of modern design and refined city living. With interiors designed to reflect Leung’s two exclusive concepts, Wood and Water, YOO8 Tower A’s 564 serviced residences range from 700 sq. ft. to 1,308 sq. ft. across 61 floors, setting a retail benchmark of RM3,283 per sq. ft.
Radiating timeless elegance and Hoppen’s quintessentially English style, YOO8 Tower B appeals to the inner cosmopolitan with its understated glamour and aesthetic vision of leisure and luxury. With interiors designed to reflect the South African-born designer’s linear style in two exclusive concepts, Spring and Urban, YOO8 Tower B’s 498 serviced residences range from 705 sq ft to 1,328 sq ft across 56 floors, setting a retail benchmark of RM3,370 per sq ft.
Kempinski will anchor the experience of living in YOO8. Beloved for its unrelenting dedication to luxury, the German luxury hospitality brand will bring its impeccable level of service to all units – completing the name of the brand: YOO8, serviced by Kempinski.
The final tower of 8 Conlay will also be a Kempinski – the first Kempinski hotel in Malaysia, itself with its own residences component. All the hallmarks of Kempinski will be present – including its ambassador extraordinaire ‘Lady in Red’, the sybaritic Kempinski spa and the local ethos that colours its service and experience.
What are the most unique factors that makes 8 Conlay different from other luxury residences?
8 Conlay will be the tallest twisted twin residential towers in Malaysia (when completed), spanning across 3.95 acres of commercial and freehold land. A mixed-use integrated development with a gross development value of RM5.4 billion, 8 Conlay differentiates itself from what is ‘perceived’ to be competition.
The branded residences at 8 Conlay called YOO8 serviced by Kempinski features not one but two power brands — international design studio YOO founded by John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck and Europe’s oldest and most established hotel group, Kempinski.
The property’s two residential towers feature interior concepts exclusively designed by Steve Leung & YOO and Kelly Hoppen for YOO, as well as landscape architecture by TROP Studio. The branded residences will provide luxury in-house services by the adjoining five-star Kempinski Hotel. While the retail lifestyle quarters will complete the bespoke lifestyle experience.
What other major trends are you seeing in KL’s property market? Are you planning additional developments in the area?
Kuala Lumpur is now one of the destinations to ‘watch’, being selected as one of ’52 Places to go in 2020’ by the New York Times, while there is a rise in the number of expatriates, with Malaysia ranked as the 9th best destination for expatriates to live and work in, according to The Expat Insider 2019 Survey.
The potential for KL’s property market is limitless, with the rapid on-going infrastructure development over the years focused in Kuala Lumpur city resulting in more connectivity and accessibility inbound to the city and within the city and its surrounding areas. The future high-speed rail project linking Malaysia to Singapore enables a seamless and a shorter travel time (90 minutes from KL to Singapore) and the expansion of the Mass Rapid Transit lines. The improved connectivity will enable businesses to be more productive and access a broader market place, spurring urbanisation.
The next future project will be in a strategic area in Kuala Lumpur and will reveal more details of the development in the future.
What do you think people are looking for as far as property investments in KL?
Kuala Lumpur has a capital appreciation on average of 5.1%, giving high return on investment (in terms of Luxury Residential Property Capital Gains). Foreigners can buy freehold properties in Malaysia and have the same rights as the locals, governed under national land code which is the same system as Hong Kong are used to, which is the British Torrens. KL offers high quality residential products at lower entry costs compared to some of the other SEA countries.
In the space of “luxury residences”, Kuala Lumpur has one of the most “affordable” price per square feet, in comparison with Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. For example, the 8 Conlay development is priced at USD809 per square feet. While, in Bangkok, the price per square feet is US$2,061 for 98 Wireless, in Singapore US$2,511 per sq. ft. for the Ritz-Carlton Residences and in Hong Kong at US$4,376 per sq. ft. for the YOO Residence.
This makes it an attractive investment especially for foreigners who are looking at high return on investment.
What is your favourite feature of the development?
To create something memorable and iconic, the twisted design remains a favourite feature of the development, where it is inspired by the curves of 8 Conlay from the Chinese character of the figure 8.
More than a luxury development, 8 Conlay has been curated to be a place where the next wave of trailblazers can gather and create their own stories – a vision we take to heart in everything that we do. Throughout the hotel and branded residences, as well as the property’s experience-driven retail space, we have worked diligently with our partners to transform public spaces into shared experiences.
It is also the maiden project undertaken by KSK Land.