The Avenir: Defining luxury in River Valley

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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February 21, 2020 10:00 AM SGT
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - The high-end condominium in prime District 9 made a splash at the start of the year. While sales may have slowed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the developer is looking beyond the short term.

Scale model of the twin 36-storey towers of The Avenir (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The novel coronavirus, which has already infected over 75,000 people as at Feb 19, was officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) a week earlier. To paraphrase WHO director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “Having a name matters.”
To counter the current uncertainty, it probably helps to have a name that denotes a brighter future. Joint property developers Hong Leong Holdings and GuocoLand chose the decidedly French name The Avenir for their luxury condo project on River Valley Close in prime District 9.
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“Perhaps the name was inspired by my Frenchness,” says French architect Jean Francois Milou, lead designer and director of the eponymous studioMilou, who designed The Avenir in collaboration with established local firm, ADDP Architects. “‘Avenir’ means ‘towards’ and ‘venir’ means ‘to come’ in French. It also means ‘future’, and implicitly, an optimistic one,” elaborates Milou.
Jean Francois Milou of studioMilou, design architect of The Avenir with Betsy Chng, head of sales and marketing at Hong Leong Holdings (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

A good start

The 376-unit The Avenir certainly had a good start. It was one of three luxury condo projects in the Core Central Region (CCR) launched on Jan 11, ahead of the Lunar New Year festival and prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.
The other two projects, located in prime District 10, were the 638-unit Leedon Green on Leedon Heights and the 69-unit Van Holland on Holland Road. The three projects in the CCR had a combined total of 1,083 units and released 159 units for sale last month. This was double the volume launched in the preceding month, points out Nicholas Mak, head of research & consultancy at ERA Realty.
A total of 20 units out of 40 released at The Avenir were snapped up over the launch weekend. Of these, seven were premium four-bedroom units with private lift access that fetched an average price of $3,560 psf, while the remaining 13 units were a mix of one- to three-bedroom units that were sold for an average of $2,960 psf.
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Twenty units were sold on the first weekend of launch at The Avenir, and to date, the total sold is 25 units (Photo: Hong Leong Holdings)
As at Feb 18, a total of 25 units were sold at a median price of $3,245 psf. “All the deals went through,” says Dominic Lee, head of luxury team at PropNex Realty. “With the Covid-19 outbreak, we had expected some of the buyers to pull out but no one did.”

Slower pace of sales

For sure, sales slowed during the Lunar New Year holiday and since the outbreak of Covid-19. “For a lot of high-end properties that you see, once they have been launched, sales tend to proceed in a slow and steady pattern,” says Betsy Chng, head of saels and marketing at Hong Leong Holdings. “Before the [Covid-19] virus outbreak, the luxury property market was heating up and developers were responding accordingly.”
In fact, there is already anecdotal evidence of some deals being pulled as buyers from China could not travel to Singapore to complete their purchase because of the travel ban. “The Chinese were already planning to buy property in Singapore,” says PropNex’s Lee. “Once the Covid-19 outbreak blows over and the travel ban is lifted, these buyers will return. We could see a V-shaped recovery then.”
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The living and dining area of the premium four-bedroom showsuite (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
What is noteworthy is that two-thirds of the buyers at The Avenir were locals while one-third were foreigners, primarily from China and the US. There were also buyers from Malaysia and the UK, as well as one buyer from Vietnam and another from Cyprus, says Chng.
For many of the local buyers, it is not their first property purchase, observes Chng. “They are buying a unit for their own use, for their children or for investment,” she says. “We have a number of people who fell in love with our project and are currently living in prime District 10; they are now asking the real estate agent to sell their existing property before they purchase the new one.”
Besides the locals, the Chinese, in particular, are drawn to the four-bedroom units because of the luxury fittings and the space, adds Chng. In fact, 10 out of the 25 units sold to date are for the four-bedroom units of 2,067 sq ft, where prices are from $7 million each; and premium four-bedroom units of 2,411 sq ft, which start from $7.8 million.
The kitchen of the premium four-bedroom unit has an island counter as well as DeDietrich and V-zug kitchen appliances including a vacuum pack drawer and combi steam cooker (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Besides private lift access, the premium four-bedroom units come with a kitchen island counter and high-end appliances from DeDietrich and Swiss brand V-Zug, which include a vacuum-packing drawer to seal food in airtight packs and a combi-steam cooker for sous vide cooking. “The vacuum pack drawer and steam cooker are new to the luxury market here,” says Chng.
Meanwhile, bathroom fittings and sanitaryware are from top-end Italian brand Antoniolupi. “We make sure we provide good finishes and a functional layout for all our units,” she adds.
The master bathroom of the premium four-bedroom showsuite featuring sanitaryware and fittings by Antoniolupi (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘One of the most luxurious’

ADDP Architects associate partner, Tang Kok Thye, has designed many of the upscale condominiums in the CCR, including GuocoLand’s Martin Modern where he collaborated with iPli Architects; New Futura in collaboration with international firm SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) by City Developments (CDL); and Pullman Residences Newton by EL Development.
“This [The Avenir] is one of the most luxurious we have done,” he says. “In addition to the design, it has to do with the selection of materials and finishes.”
Besides the kitchen and bathroom fittings, Raymond Yap, ADDP senior principal architect, points to the marble slabs in the larger units, such as the premium three- and four-bedroom units, which are 900mm by 900mm. The smaller units feature 600mm by 600mm marble slabs.
Raymond Yap (left) and Tang Kok Thye of ADDP Architects collaborated with studioMilou on the design of The Avenir (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Details include a bronze finish for the frames of the vanity mirror and shower compartments. “We make sure that we choose materials that do not require too much maintenance and can withstand the test of time,” says Tang. “As architects, it’s not just about designing a nice façade; we have to be concerned about minimising maintenance issues for the homeowners downstream.”

Sense of space

With high land prices, most property developers are concerned with maximising gross floor area (GFA) and efficiency of the units, adds Tang. “For luxury properties, you have to make sure that the units are efficient, yet make the rooms feel spacious.” At The Avenir, ceiling height of apartments has been raised to 3.2m for an elevated sense of space, he adds.
“In the early days, when I designed a condo project, the master bedroom has to have a width of 3.6m – 2.1m for the king-sized bed, another 0.6m for the console table for the television, and 0.9m for people to walk around the bed,” relates Tang.
The master bedroom of the premium four-bedroom showsuite at The Avenir (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
“These days, with wall-mounted flat screen or smart TV, the need for the console table is gone,” he says. “With the change in lifestyle, the length of the master bedroom becomes more important, and it’s a space where you can use as a dressing area or workspace.”
ADDP is also involved in the design of two upcoming projects to be launched this year: KOPAR at Newton at Kampong Java Road by Chip Eng Seng Corp; and GuocoLand’s upcoming project, Midtown Gardens, at Tan Quee Lan Street.
“As an architect, we have to be progressive,” says Tang. “We are never happy with what we have done. We are always striving to do better for our next project.” Hence, for some of the recent high-end projects, ADDP had sought collaboration with artists, designers or other architectural firms.
The living room of the premium three-bedroom unit (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘Strong identity’

At The Avenir, it was the desire to create a product with a strong identity that led to ADDP’s collaboration with StudioMilou. “We felt that the neighbourhood lacked identity,” says Tang.
The Avenir is a redevelopment of the former Pacific Mansion, which sat on a freehold site of 128,352 sq ft at River Valley Close. The site was purchased en bloc by the Hong Leong-led consortium for $980 million in March 2018, and it marked the highest collective sale deal in over a decade.
Shortly after ADDP was appointed the design architect for The Avenir, Tang chanced upon a luxury bungalow that Milou had designed and was intrigued. He learnt that the architect for the bungalow was the same as that for the National Gallery Singapore. “By collaborating with Jean [Milou], I felt that we could create something with a strong presence,” says Tang.
The walk-in wardrobe of the master bedroom in the premium four-bedroom shpw suite . (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
While The Avenir was not the first luxury residential project that studioMilou has designed, it is the first high-rise luxury condominium project the architectural firm has undertaken in Singapore.

‘Classical inspiration’

The twin 36-storey towers at The Avenir are “a classical inspiration” drawn from the vertical form and proportions of a cathedral, says Milou. “While The Avenir is of course a very secular work of architecture, we aimed to contribute a design that is an integral part of the street itself, which is more likely to make a lasting impression,” he adds.
He felt that there was a need to create “a consistently powerful experience of elegance and tranquillity” not just from the entrance into the development, but also from the street level. “The intention was to see the street as a beautiful corridor leading to your apartment,” adds Milou. “It is not something I have seen in Singapore. I hope we can make a difference.”
Showflat of the two-bedroom unit at The Avenir (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
For the new owner of a unit at The Avenir, “it is not just about buying an apartment, but an address”, says Milou. “We want to enforce that River Valley Close will remain a prime address in the city in the future.”
Emphasis was also placed on landscaping, with Tinderbox Landscape Studio as the landscape design architect. “The grounds are divided into a series of landscaped courtyards, where you come in from a public space to a semi-private space and then a private space,” explains ADDP’s Tang. The residential towers are elevated more than 10m above ground, which frees up more space for greenery such as the lawn and facilities from tennis courts to the swimming pool on the undulating terrain, he adds. There are also landscaped roof terraces on the top of both towers.
“We are not trying to capture the last trendy thing circulating in town,” says Milou. “That’s not our thing. We try to create verticality, noblesse of materials, and the well-defined articulation of space.”
River Valley area, near Orchard Road is a prime neighbourhood sought-after by Singaporeans; Many of the buyers at The Avenir are existing residents in the area (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Capitalising on views

The residential towers are oriented to capitalise on views of Orchard Road on one side and the Singapore River on the other, says Milou.
The premium tower contains a mix of premium three- and four-bedroom units, while the other residential tower has a mix of one- to three-bedroom units with sizes from 527 to 1,141 sq ft. The premium tower of The Avenir overlooks River Valley Primary School, a sought-after primary school among local home buyers, notes Hong Leong’s Chng. The upcoming Great World City MRT Station is also nearby.
“River Valley is a neighbourhood favoured by Singaporeans, and many of the buyers of The Avenir were those living in the area,” notes PropNex’s Lee. “In fact, The Avenir is one of the nicest new launches in that area.”
Check out the latest listings near The Avenir, MRT Stations and Schools
For price trends, recent transactions, other project info, check out The Avenir project research page
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