Lornie Road Good Class Bungalow going for $50 mil

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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October 9, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Timothy Chia’s favourite part of his family home at Lornie Road is a balcony on the second floor of the double-storey bungalow. From there, one has a commanding view of the landscaped garden on the 33,000 sq ft property. As a child, that same balcony offered him and his brothers a vantage view of the goldfish swimming below. “We would throw lines down to try and catch them,” relates the 69-year-old chairman of Hup Soon Global Corp, an industrial equipment and automotive products distributor. “I still remember those days when we were young.”
Lornie Road Exterior - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The Art Deco features of the house built in 1939 have been preserved (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
There used to be two durian trees on the property, but they had to be cut down because the squirrels would eat the fruit before anyone else had a chance, says Chia.
Such recollections by Chia and his elder sister Jennifer were instrumental in designer Darren Yio’s decision to retain the original Art Deco-style house built in 1939. The property had been owned by Chia’s family since the 1950s. However, after the passing of his father, Charlie Chia Cheng Guan, the former head of United Motor Works in 2011, and his mother, Janet Chia, a year later, the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) had been unoccupied until 2018.
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That was when Chia, who owns the majority stake in the property, decided that it needed an update and engaged Yio, the founder of Archetype Studio, as the designer. Yio had designed Chia’s GCB in the Bishopsgate area nearly a decade ago, when he was still under the employment of SCDA Architects.
PEO-DARREN-YIO-SIC - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Yio: Basically, all the interiors of the house are new (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The GCB at Bishopsgate was designed according to a high level of specifications, featuring the latest gizmos that Chia wanted for his new home. However, when it was completed in 2011, it was tenanted, and then left vacant, before a “newly-minted Singapore citizen” swooped in and bought it for $33 million in 2015, according to a caveat lodged then. “I never got to spend a single night at the bungalow at Bishopsgate,” says Chia, who has since bought another GCB on Nassim Road, which is his current home.

‘New organs’

At the GCB on Lornie Road, while the exterior design has been preserved, the walls had to be strengthened and reinforced with granite on the first level and aluminium cladding on the upper level. The air-conditioning system was overhauled; new electrical wiring was installed; and the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as limestone flooring of the house, are all new. “Basically, all the organs of the house are new,” says Yio.
As Chia wanted the house to be used for entertainment and extended family gatherings, Yio removed the wall separating the kitchen and the dining room, so that guests can see the chef in action. Behind the dry kitchen is the wet kitchen, which leads to an outdoor kitchen. Yio even consulted Michelin-starred chef, Emmanuel Stroobant, on the plan and design of the kitchen, including some of the equipment specifications.
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Dining are and dry kitchen - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The dining area and dry kitchen, with the wet kitchen and outdoor kitchen beyond. The series of kitchens and all the equipment are brand new (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The covered patio around the house was extended. This way, all the glass sliding doors in the living and dining area can be opened up to create a bigger indoor-outdoor entertainment area.
The driveway was also expanded to accommodate more cars. “We wanted a broad and long driveway to create a sense of arrival,” says Chia.
He did not spare any expenses when it came to landscape design. He even arranged for British sculptor, Mehrdad Tafreshi, to fly to Singapore to design three sculptures for the garden, including a metal leaf sculpture made of copper for his water feature. An automated irrigation system has been installed, so that the plants are watered twice a day. Smart home features including Cisco home security have been installed in the house.
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The GCB at Lornie Road has three bedrooms. Chia’s eldest brother, who was an architect, had renovated the property in the 1970s. He had added two wings on either side of the house: one of the wings has been turned into a guest suite and the other is the new living room. The guest suite has a view of the garden and the water feature with Tafreshi’s metal leaf sculpture.
metal leaf by Mehrdad Tafreshi  - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
A metal leaf sculpture made of copper is one of three art installations designed by British sculptor, Mehrdad Tafreshi for the property (Photo: Darren Yio/Archetype Studio)

New interiors, quality materials

While the layout of the house has remained intact, all the interiors are new: from the limestone flooring on the first level, to the powder room and guest bedroom on the first level. Even the two bedrooms on the second level have also been updated, with the addition of a walk-in wardrobe and concealed storage space. The biggest bedroom on the second level is the one adjoining the rotunda. The space can be used as a work area, a dressing room or a study.
Yio estimates that the final tally for the design and renovation works, including landscaping, is more than $4 million. A significant amount went to the landscaping and the kitchen design, with all the new Miele appliances, quartz countertops and the high level of finish, he says.
The house was completed in April last year, so Chia had the opportunity to hold several parties and this year’s Chinese New Year celebration before the Covid-19 lockdown. “We did hold some celebrations here,” says Chia. “We were thinking of using the house more often this year, but unfortunately because of Covid-19, we couldn’t.”
living room and dining room - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The living room and dining room beyond. Both are designed with glass sliding doors that open out to a covered patio, further extending the entertainment area of the house (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Even though none of his family members lives in the house, a live-in caretaker cleans and maintains it. “Houses become run-down very quickly if there’s no one living in them,” says Chia. The house comes with a separate helpers’ quarters and garage.
Over the years, Chia has been approached by those seeking a big GCB plot, either for their own use, or to carve into two smaller plots — one for their own use, and another to sell. “But I have not been keen [to sell] because I wanted to make sure that we get to enjoy the house until we are tired of entertaining,” he says. “It’s a brand new house after all.”
The existing house has a total built-up area of 4,500 sq ft and occupies a site area of just 13%, says Archetype’s Yio. The new URA regulation introduced in July last year allows an increase in site coverage to 40%. “This means the footprint of the house can be extended by another 10,000 sq ft, the equivalent of another 2½-storey detached house,” he adds. He has even identified an area where the new extension can be built on the property.
The rotunda  - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The rotunda adjoining the master bedroom can be used as a dressing room, a study or workspace (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
According to Samuel Eyo, managing director of Lighthouse Property Consultants, there are only a handful of GCBs in the Caldecott Hill Estate that sit on land parcels of more than 30,000 sq ft. They include two GCBs on Andrew Road and another on Olive Road. Eyo reckons the redevelopment of the former MediaCorp campus on Andrew Road is likely to lead to rejuvenation of the prime District 11 neighbourhood.

Elevated site, views of MacRitchie

“The attraction of this site on Lornie Road is that it is elevated, and enjoys unblocked views of MacRitchie Reservoir,” says Eyo. He believes the site will appeal to multi-generational families — those who want to live together, but still maintain their privacy. “The site is big enough to build up to two more detached houses, without subdividing it,” he adds.
It is also likely to appeal to young families who want a new house that they can move into immediately, adds Eyo. “Over time, as the family gets bigger and the children grow up, they may want to build an extension to the existing house. Alternatively, in the future, if they decide to downsize, they can subdivide the site into two smaller GCB sites, sell one of them, and retain the other for their own use.”
Samuel Eyo - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Eyo: The attraction of this site on Lornie Road is that it is elevated, and enjoys unblocked views of MacRitchie Reservoir (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Chia is not keen on selling his family home, as it was handed down to him and his siblings. “My mother gave it to the four of us,” he says. “It has sentimental value for us.” The siblings subsequently got the property valued so that those who wanted to, could sell their shares. “We felt it was only fair that we didn’t tie people’s hands if they have other financial commitments,” Chia explains. Today, Chia and his sister Jennifer are the owners of the property, with Chia holding the bigger share.
However, "Never say never", he quips, and would consider selling the house if he gets an offer of $50 million ($1,523 psf). “‘5’ is my lucky number, that’s why my car number plates are all ‘5’,” says Chia.
decorative panels for the new doorway - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The grilles of the former entrance doorway were turned into decorative panels for the new doorway (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)