Inside the $48 Mil 'Copper House'

/ The Edge Property
June 27, 2016 8:00 AM SGT
Sentosa Cove has some of the priciest waterfront resort homes built on 99-year leasehold reclaimed land. Even among over the top homes, there are those that stand out for their sheer extravagance. One such home that has earned the moniker of the “Copper House” belongs to a Singaporean tycoon who built the property on two adjacent plots of 9,000 sq ft each.
When amalgamated, the result was an 18,052 sq ft site with a 41.4m frontage along the foreshore. The site is also one of the biggest in Sentosa Cove for a private bungalow, as most plots are sized from 6,200 to 8,945 sq ft.
Eyo: This is one of the most luxurious and glamorous houses in Sentosa Cove. I would even call it an art piece.
According to Samuel Eyo, managing director of Singapore Christie’s International Real Estate, fewer than 10 plots in Sentosa Cove are the result of amalgamated sites. And when it comes to a land size of at least 18,000 sq ft, there are less than a handful. “It’s very rare to have bungalow sites of 18,000 sq ft in Sentosa Cove,” he says.
The temperature-controlled state-of-the-art wine cellar can store 2,000 bottles
Besides the size advantage, the property owner wanted a spectacular holiday home that maximises the sea view, has generous entertainment space, a long wine cellar big enough for 2,000 bottles, six en suite bedrooms and room for a private spa, sauna and gymnasium.
“Every year, the owner will throw a big Chinese New Year party,” relates Chan Chia Gunawan, who was formerly an architect at CSYA and had worked closely with Sonny Chan on the design of the home. Gunawan left in 2013 to start his own architectural firm, Studio Jia. CSYA founder Chan, 75, was awarded the Singapore President’s Design Award in 2011.
CSYA had also designed the Singapore tycoon’s primary residence at Cluny Hill a decade ago. That house has a contemporary tropical resort feel as it is located in a mature Good Class Bungalow enclave near the Singapore Botanic Gardens. “The owner wanted a calm, private retreat,” relates Chan.
Land of fantastical homes
The Copper House was designed in response to an exciting resort lifestyle, says Chan. “It’s located by the sea and set amid an agglomeration of other individually designed homes in a tabula rasa [Latin for clean slate] environment.” Given that Sentosa Cove was a greenfield site where bungalow plots were sold to individuals to build their own dream homes, the result was a series of fantastical houses. Next door is what has been dubbed the “Party House” while across the road is a miniature edition of Raffles Hotel. Further down the street is a version of a pharaoh’s tomb, complete with a pair of jackal statues standing guard at the doorway.
The entrance to the house from the private basement car park
Just two doors from the Copper House sits SC Global’s luxury condominium Seven Palms, at the end of Cove Drive. It is where a 4,241 sq ft, four-bedroom apartment was sold for $15.8 million ($3,721 psf) in March. Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is said to own two units at Seven Palms, purchased for a total of $57.2 million in 2012. Spanish business magnate Ricardo Portabella Peralta paid $28.55 million for two adjoining units on the third floor of the condo in 2014, setting a new record price per sq foot of $4,113. Designed by Kerry Hill Architects, the 41-unit luxury condo facing Tanjong Beach was completed in 2013.
With such neighbours, it is little wonder that the Singaporean owner of the Copper House had initially wanted a foreign star architect to design his house in late 2007. Foreign star architects lent greater international stature to projects: Moshe Safdie for Marina Bay Sands, Daniel Libeskind for Reflections at Keppel Bay, Ole Schereen for The Interlace and Zaha Hadid for d’Leedon. “I told the owner, ‘But I’m technically a foreign architect’,’” says Gunawan, an Indonesian. “So, he asked me to propose some designs for him.” The current house is based on one of the designs proposed by CSYA in early 2008.
The living room is located on the second level to maximise the sea views
To optimise the sea views of the property, the house was inverted: The second level contains the living and dining area, kitchen and wine cellar, giving it a larger footprint than the first level. A ramped access to the rooftop was built, transforming it into a 10,000 sq ft entertainment area resembling the deck of a yacht. The rooftop has become an extension of the entertainment floor on the second level.
The house has been inverted, with the living-dining area for entertainment on the second level and rooftop, and the bedrooms on the first level opening out to the swimming pool
Unlike a conventional house, all the six en suite bedrooms are on the ground level. The master suite and four bedrooms have direct access to the swimming pool. “We wanted to create an Amandari resort-style villa where you can step into the pool right outside your bedroom,” explains Gunawan. The guest bedroom and bathroom is linked to a sauna room, private spa and gym.
The exterior of the copper-cladded house, thus its nickname, the ‘Copper House’
Elements of a grandiose house
The home owner’s feng shui master had dictated the use of metal elements and the warm colour scheme of the house. Therefore, copper cladding was chosen for the façade. “The choice of copper cladding is partially owing to feng shui considerations,” says Chan. Copper also weathers well over the long term, especially with the salt air, sun and sea at Sentosa Cove. “Over time, the copper will have a green patina,” adds Chan.
The rooftop terrace has been turned into an extension of the entertainment area on the second level
Teak was the timber of choice for the outdoor ramp and rooftop deck as it is hardier than most other types of wood, Gunawan says. The central staircase, which wraps around the lift, is made entirely of American oak. The lift, on the other hand, is made entirely of copper-coloured stainless steel and designed to resemble a multifaceted cut gem.
The exterior of the lift resembles a multifaceted cut gem while the wraparound staircase is made of American oak. The central roof is a glass prism.
The centrepiece on the second level is the wine cellar, which is entirely encased in stainless steel cladding and also designed as a cut gem. It has a triple-layer heated glass to prevent condensation, and is temperature controlled and accessible only with a security access code. The floor of the wine cellar — which can accommodate up to 2,000 bottles — is raised and paved entirely in white onyx.
One of the major extravagances of the house is the honey onyx paving on the entire second level floor as well as all the bathrooms. “Generally, people use onyx as a feature wall or in a small area of the bathroom as a statement piece,” Christie’s Eyo points out.
Honey-coloured onyx was chosen, in keeping with the warm colours suggested by the feng shui master, says Gunawan. The onyx costs at least $1,300 psm, which means the tiles for the second floor and the six bathrooms added up to over $1 million, he estimates. That is equivalent to the cost of an entire two-bedroom private condo in mainland Singapore.
The wet and dry kitchen, including all the cabinetry, was customised by top-end German manufacturer Bulthaup for about $600,000. In the wet kitchen is a cold room for frozen food and vegetables — and it is the size of a bedroom in most private apartments today.
It is little wonder that the construction cost of the house alone was $10 million, and including furnishing, it was about $12 million, reckons Gunawan.
The built-up of the house is 9,597 sq ft and the footprint is so large, Gunawan’s concern was that its interior might be too dark. To solve that, he created an internal courtyard garden next to the lift and staircase. The central part of the house is covered with a glass prism roof to allow natural light in.
Originally, the courtyard garden featured real trees and flowering plants, but they did not thrive well as the soil level may have been too shallow, says Gunawan. Since the owner likes golf, he requested that the courtyard garden be turned into a mini putting green and synthetic turfing was installed instead.
To complement the design of the house, CSYA not only chose the materials and fittings but also the soft furnishing, which are all top-end Euro pean brands. For example, the ‘Air by Boffi’ minimal ceiling fans of natural wood, installed in the main areas and bedrooms, cost over €3,000 each. Lighting Planners Associates of Japan — the designer of the lighting master plan for Singapore’s city centre — was engaged to design the lighting for the whole house.
Lofty prices
The Copper House is one of the few houses in Sentosa Cove that come with private basement parking for up to eight cars. “This is one of the most luxurious and glamourous houses in Sentosa Cove,” says Eyo. “I would even call it an art piece.”
The property is on the market with a price tag of $48 million ($2,659 psf). And, if it is sold, it will mark the first sale of a bungalow in Sentosa Cove in 2016. It will also be the most expensive bungalow sold to date in the 117ha man-made waterfront residential resort with about 300 landed residences.
The highest-priced bungalow sold at Sentosa Cove is also on Cove Drive. It sits on a 15,391 sq ft seafront land plot and was previously owned by Dr Susan Lim and her husband, Deepak Sharma, former chairman of Citi Private Bank turned cofounder of 91springboard growth start-up. The bungalow was sold for $39 million ($2,448 psf) in 2012, setting a record for Sentosa Cove bungalows in terms of absolute price. The buyer was said to be mining business magnate Shael Oswal, a non-resident Indian turned Singapore permanent resident. Oswal is reported to have turned the property into a weekend getaway for his family.
Since The Copper House was completed in 2012, the Singaporean owner and his family have enjoyed many weekends and thrown many memorable parties there. After all, the house was designed to serve as a private holiday home and a great place to entertain friends and family.
“It is ideal for those who want something exceptional,” says Eyo, who is marketing the property. The owner, however, is in no hurry to part with the house. Eyo remarks. “He will only sell if he achieves his desired asking price”.