Renowned foreign architects spice up Singapore’s building design landscape

Developers are turning to renowned foreign architects to add brand cachet to their building projects.

Some 12 foreign architects have lent their names to at least 14 new private residential launches and projects under construction.

The late Paul Rudolph and Mosche Safdie were among the first foreign architects to enter Singapore’s residential market in the mid-80s.

They are now joined by more than a dozen illustrious names, including Ole Scheeren and Daniel Libeskind.

Mr David Neubronner, Head of Residential Project Sales at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “It is a branding thing and using a foreign, renowned architect for condominiun here to get a premium for the development and in terms of design wise, they do come out with nicer design.”

Backed by the reputation of these architects, developers have been able to price these projects at some 5 to 10 percent above market rates

In fact, one analyst says the Safdie name has helped Sky Habitat – touted as an iconic development in the heartland – to command a 30 to 35 percent premium over neighbouring developments.

With a site next to Sky Habitat included in the recent Government Land Sale programme, some are wondering if the winning developer will also market it as a brand-name development.

Mr Tay Kheng Soon, Principal Architect of Akitek Tenggara, said: “The use of brand-name architects is part of the old success model which is designed to stand out from the crowd. But, everyone can do that so there is no advantage anymore.”

He feels that Singapore needs a new model for success, one that will premise on becoming the creative centre of innovation and enterprise in Asia.

Mr Jerry Tan, Founder of Jerrytan Residential Pte Ltd, said: “It could be part of their marketing spiel and to add a bit more possess into the whole scheme of things. But, whether foreign, local big or small, I think at the end of the day, end users in today’s market look at the practical side of things whether the internal layouts also fit their needs.”

Niche luxury developer, SC Global prides itself on only using local designers for their projects, while other developers like Capitaland, City Development, Keppel Land and Far East have been known to rope in big names for their projects.

Mr Theodore Chan, President of Singapore Institute of Architects, said: “Attaching your design to a brand-name architect, it sells, I think it is a difficult thing to fight against.

“There is no shortage of talent in Singapore with our local architects as you can see with some of our top buildings that the SIA has awarded, and some of them have even gone to win international awards.

“So you look at it, the talent is there, the qualities of the buildings are there. Perhaps, what is not there is the opportunity to do large and high profile projects.”

Still, they say Singapore architects have been responsible for award-winning iconic projects such as The Pinnacle at Duxton.

Source : CNA – 2012 Jun 21

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