Designer Robert Cheng’s garden home concept for Swire Properties’ Eden

By Valerie Kor / EdgeProp Singapore | April 9, 2021 6:00 AM SGT
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In the living room, there are curved sofas by Vladimir Kagan and custom-designed Travertine tables by Brewin Collection (Photo: Brewin Design Office)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Eden, the 20-unit condominium block at Draycott Drive, was never officially launched for sale. Few, except the ultra-high net worth, have ventured beyond the threshold of the property developed by Hong Kong-listed Swire Properties, especially now that all 20 units have been sold, reportedly to the Tsai family who are Taiwanese and owns the snack food company Want Want Holdings. The price is said to be $293 million or $4,827 psf.
Completed in 4Q2019 and designed by multi-award-winning British architect Thomas Heatherwick, the vertical “Garden of Eden” design resembles hanging gardens, with clam-shaped balconies filled with cascading plants on every floor of the 20-storey tower.
Heatherwick is known for designing London’s Routemaster buses, the Cauldron for the 2012 Olympic Games and Google’s headquarters at King’s Cross. In Singapore, besides Eden at Draycott, Heatherwick designed Nanyang Technological University’s The Hive/Learning Hub and the upcoming Terminal 5 at Changi Airport.
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In Hong Kong, Heatherwick had designed Swire Properties’ Pacific Place Mall three decades ago. In 2006, Swire Properties engaged Heatherwick in a GBP166 million enhancement exercise to refresh the asset. Meanwhile, visitors to Hudson Yard in New York will see Heatherwick’s Vessel, an elaborate interactive artwork with 154 interconnecting staircases.
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The master bedroom that also has a view of the greenery at the balcony outside (Photo: Brewin Design Office)
However, Eden is both Heatherwick’s and Swire Properties’ maiden luxury residential project in Singapore. Even before Eden was completed in late 2019, Swire Properties had engaged Singapore-based Brewin Design Office, headed by founder and design principal Robert Cheng, as the interior designer for three show units within the development.
A trained architect and interior designer, Cheng founded Brewin Design Office 10 years ago. He studied architecture at Rhode Island School of Design and later did his Master of Architecture in Urban Design at Harvard Graduate School of Design.
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Robert Cheng, founder and design principal of Singapore-based Brewin Design Office (Photo: Brewin Design Office)
Among his works, Cheng is most famous for his design of the penthouse at The Morgan, a luxury residential tower on Conduit Road at Mid-Levels, Hong Kong, by private equity real estate investment firm, Phoenix Property Investors. The Morgan was designed by New York-based architect Robert AM Stern.
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Cheng also designed one of the units at the luxury condominium, Le Nouvel Ardmore at the prestigious Ardmore Park neighbourhood, for one of the buyers. The 43-unit luxury condo is developed by Singapore-listed Wing Tai Holdings and designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Adjacent to Le Nouvel Ardmore is Pontiac Land’s Ardmore Residence, where Cheng also designed the penthouse for its owner Evan Kwee.
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The master bathroom (Photo: Brewin Design Office)

Spiritual heart of the apartment

At Eden, the biophilic elements were inspired by the black-and-white colonial houses in Singapore, with their verandas, internal courtyards and indoor-outdoor garden. “This was very much Heatherwick’s concept for Eden,” Cheng says.
Each apartment occupies an entire floor of 3,035 sq ft and comes with four en suite bedrooms and five balconies. The main balcony in the living room extends to the master bedroom. The dining room and the other bedrooms have their own private balconies too. These balconies are not merely ornamental but deep enough to support trees, should the homeowner turn out to be a city dweller with a green thumb. The apartments span the 3rd to 22nd levels of the tower.
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Sierra Brava 12-seater stone dining table by Brewin Collection is featured in the dining area, with an odd-shaped tabletop supported by eight organically-shaped legs (Photo: Brewin Design Office)
Cheng was struck by the layout of the apartments: The living room is placed right in the middle with the bedrooms leading off from it. This is unlike most apartments where the living and dining area is separated from the bedrooms by a private corridor.
Heatherwick’s intention was “to make the living room the spiritual heart of the apartment”. Cheng carried Heatherwick’s architectural style into the interiors. “My role as the interior designer was to help convey the kind of experience that a potential homebuyer will have,” says Cheng.

Customised pieces, rare artwork

In keeping with Heatherwick’s organic aesthetics, Cheng chose furniture and fixtures that are handcrafted, as well as used natural materials such as rattan, timber and stone. Some of the pieces are rare artwork pieces and accessories sourced from renowned galleries across the US, Italy, Australia and Belgium, while others were custom-designed by Cheng’s Brewin Design Office and other renowned furniture designers.
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The study desk by American artist Christopher Kurtz, with the famous photograph Marine Iguana Galapagos, Ecuador, 2004 by artist and nature photographer Sebastiao Salgado (Photo: Brewin Design Office)
For instance, at the entrance foyer is a blown glass wall sconce by Jeff Zimmerman. The dining room features a Sierra Brava marble table that can seat a dinner party of 12, with “Kingdom Drape chandelier” by American lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, candlesticks by New York designer Ted Muehlig and dinnerware from Hermes Carnets D’Equateur.
The living room is furnished with curved sofas by American furniture designer, Vladimir Kagan; Pelican armchairs by Danish designer Finn Juhl; and toadstool lamps by Belgian artist-designer Jos Devriendt.
Other art pieces and furniture from independent designers include a study desk in American walnut by American artist and furniture designer Christopher Kurtz. In the study is also a famous photograph by Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado, Marine iguana, Galápagos, Ecuador, 2004.
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The entry of the apartment from the private lift lobby (Photo: Brewin Design Office)
Furniture pieces from Cheng’s Brewin Collection include the travertine coffee tables in the living room; the Sierra Brava marble shelves in the study, and the solid teak curved benches at the balconies. Timber such as teak, oak and walnut were selected as they would age better over time, adds Cheng.
In addition to handcrafted pieces, Cheng also featured high-tech methods, for instance, the timber veneer wall design was made using laser cutting and CNC (computerised numerical control) machining.
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Travertine coffee tables designed by Brewin Collection for the living room (Photo: Brewin Design Office)

Ground-breaking transformation

In another unit at Eden, Cheng also showed how two apartments on different floors could be linked via a staircase. In the third apartment, Cheng transformed a four-bedroom unit into a three-bedder by converting two of the bedrooms into a larger one.
For Cheng, the work he did for the fully-furnished show unit at Eden was ground-breaking. “We used the apartment as a testing ground for unique pieces that were never designed before,” he says.
What’s more, it is likely to give the new owners at Eden an idea of how they could furnish their new 20-unit, 80-bedroom home with 100 plant-filled balconies at 2 Draycott Park in Prime District 10.
Check out the latest listings near Eden, Le Nouvel Ardmore, Ardmore Residence