[UPDATE] Brewin Design Office behind the design of Le Nouvel Ardmore unit sold at record price of $5,800 psf

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - When a 28th-floor unit at Le Nouvel Ardmore was sold for an auspicious $22,288,888 in late June, the unit price of $5,800 psf set a new benchmark for the 43-unit, luxury condominium at Ardmore Park on a psf basis.
The 3,843 sq ft, four-bedroom unit was sold fully furnished. The buyer, a tycoon from Inner Mongolia, also owns an identical unit on the 23rd floor of the same tower, which he purchased in March 2017 when the freehold project was first launched. According to a caveat lodged then, he had purchased the four-bedroom apartment on a lower floor as a bare unit, and paid $15.575 million ($4,005 psf).
The $5,800 psf achieved for the 28th-floor unit set the stage for the next deal, an eighth-floor unit that fetched $22.289 million ($5,800 psf) in early July. Developed by Wing Tai Holdings, Le Nouvel Ardmore was completed in 2014, and is over 74% sold to date, based on caveats lodged.
The living room of the 28th floor unit designed by Brewin Design Office, including the screen by a French designer (Photo: Brewin Design Office)

Diminishing supply

“Such record prices are a reflection of the diminishing supply of luxury properties, especially of large-format, four-bedroom units above 3,000 sq ft,” says Bruce Lye, managing partner of SRI.
Le Nouvel Ardmore bears the name of its French architect, Pritzker Prize laureate Jean Nouvel. Even though the condo was completed in 2014, its design still looks fresh as it was designed “to last for decades”, says Robert Cheng, founder and principal designer of Brewin Design Office.
The interior design of the 28th-floor unit that commanded the record price is particularly significant to Cheng, as it marked his first foray into customised residential design shortly after he founded Brewin Design Office in 2013.
Since then, Brewin Design Office has been behind the design of several other luxury developments. One of them was a show unit at Swire Properties’ Eden at Draycott Park. The 20-unit development was sold en bloc to the Tsai family of Want Want Holdings for $293 million in March 2021.
Cheng was also the designer for the sales gallery, one of the showflats and also the interiors of the 54-unit luxury condo Park Nova, by Hongkong-listed Shun Tak Holdings, a conglomerate with interests in Hong Kong and Macau and controlled by billionaire Pansy Ho.
Launched in May last year, almost overnight, Park Nova became the most prominent example of a super luxury condo in Singapore. The highest price achieved at Park Nova was $34.438 million ($5,838 psf) and it was for the sale of its biggest penthouse of 5,899 sq ft that was snapped up on the first day of launch. Many of the buyers are said to be Chinese nationals. Over 74% of the units have been sold at an average of $4,948 psf, based on caveats lodged to date.
Shun Tak’s other project is Les Maisons Nassim, with just 14 apartments, on Nassim Road. Units start from 6,049 sq ft at prices from $34.6 million ($5,153 psf). The sole penthouse of 12,077 sq ft fetched $75 million ($6,210 psf) in October 2021. Les Maisons Nassim was launched at the same time as Park Nova in May 2021, and about half of its units have been sold to date at prices averaging $5,589 psf.
master bedroom - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The master bedroom where the furniture is customed and space reconfigured (Photo: Brewin Design Office)

Customisation of apartments

“These transactions are a reflection of the overall price trend of the ultra-luxury market in Singapore moving up to the $5,000 to $6,000 psf range,” notes Cheng.
At this price range, the buyers are certainly more discerning and want their units to be customised, he adds. And they are willing to pour in “millions” into designing the interiors to suit their lifestyle.
Even though Le Nouvel Ardmore was designed a decade ago, the project’s offering is still relevant to the ultra-rich today. Cheng was working for Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris at the time when Nouvel himself was designing Le Nouvel Ardmore, his first residential project in Singapore and Asia.
While Cheng was not involved in the design of Le Nouvel Ardmore, he understands the thought process behind it. “The tower was designed very much like a Tetris block,” he says. “If you measure it from column to column, everything is equal and conforms to a three-dimensional grid; and a lot of the spaces are rectilinear and defined within the grid.”
Even though there are only 43 units at Le Nouvel Ardmore, there are 17 different apartment types. The two units on the 28th floor, however, are identical, L-shaped and a mirror image of each other.
The 28th-floor unit that Cheng designed had belonged to one of the first two buyers of Le Nouvel Ardmore. They had purchased the units at the preview phase when the project was still under construction. Cheng was able to reconfigure the entire apartment, including shifting the positions of the bathrooms, something he would not have been able to do after the project was completed.
The space was designed as a second home for a family from Hong Kong: a mother and her two grown-up children, one of whom is married. Cheng therefore turned the four-bedroom unit into a three-bedroom apartment with a master suite and two junior master suites. Every room has its own personality to suit its intended occupant, notes Cheng.
The design was inspired by the unobstructed views looking westward, and the light at dusk (Photo: Brewin Design Office)

Inspired by views

The design inspiration for the 28th-floor unit came from the views. According to Cheng, the apartment has incomparable, unblocked views towards the west. “When you’re standing at the balcony at about 4pm to 5pm, you have incredible dusk light when the sun is setting,” he says. “So it gave me the inspiration of introducing blue tones to the apartment.”
The entire apartment, which has a 3.2m ceiling, was reconfigured. The original white marble slabs were replaced by a chequered pattern of rectangles and squares, which is a continuation of the Tetris block pattern. As the layout of the apartment has also been changed, instead of four en suite bedrooms, the new unit has two junior master suites and one master suite. Even the rear portion of the apartment was reconfigured to provide more back-of-house space, adds Cheng.
As there are now three bedrooms instead of four, the bedrooms are 1.5 times larger than the original. The children’s bathrooms were also reconfigured: the daughter, who is married, has a double sink vanity top, while the son, who was single then, has just one sink in his bathroom.
What was important to Cheng is that his design has withstood the test of time. Cheng had looked for artisanal pieces for the home, for instance, a screen made by a French designer. The timber furniture were designed by Cheng, and made by craftsmen in Australia, then shipped to Singapore.
Cheng had flown to China to personally handpick the blue quartzite stone for the master bathroom, after demolishing the standard provision marble. Even the carpet was customised to match the grey-blue tones of the marble flooring in the living room. The walls, bay windows, and ceiling have been coated with a layer of ivory blue stucco. “Every white surface in the apartment has been covered with a layer of stucco,” he says. “The whole apartment is designed to be very calm, with a white palette and slight tinge of blue.”
Cheng: The whole apartment is designed to be very calm, with a white palette and slight tinge of blue (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Multimillion-dollar interior design

The renovation of the unit on the 28th floor had taken about 18 months to complete, and cost about $2.5 million in total, estimates Cheng. As a lot of the furniture was customised, and much of the timberwork was done by skilled craftsmen in Australia, it would be “impossible” for someone to replicate the design in Singapore today, he adds.
“We designed every requirement to suit the owner, and we are still selectively doing that today,” according to Cheng.
He is currently customising a 6,168 sq ft duplex penthouse at Four Seasons Park for its Chinese owner. Based on caveats lodged, the 6,168 sq ft penthouse on the 26th floor of Four Seasons Park was sold for $19 million ($3,081 psf) in May 2021. This is the second highest transaction to date in terms of absolute price at the 202-unit, freehold condo developed by Hotel Properties and completed in 1994. In terms of price psf, it is also the fourth highest to date.
Cheng has embarked on a complete overhaul of the penthouse at Four Seasons Park, which is currently under construction. The owner is bringing in Italian sculptures to decorate his apartment. The budget for the makeover of the penthouse is $3 million.
If a home is designed for an end-user, it is important to invest in interior design too, says Cheng. “Often in Singapore, home buyers think that if they pay a premium for a residential unit or even a piece of land, they should pay less for architecture and interior design as those things have less resale value,” he observes.
However, such properties have been known to command a premium, as evidenced by recent transaction prices.
Besides the interiors of luxury homes, Cheng is also involved in the interior design of luxury hospitality projects. Brewin Design Office is designing two hotel properties in Niseko and Kyoto for the Capella Hotel Group.
“We enjoy designing interiors for the ultra-luxury market,” says Cheng.

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