A recently rebuilt semi-detached house in the Upper Bukit Timah-Beauty World neighbourhood of District 21 has all the trappings of a bungalow — from the terraced garden on every level of the three-storey house to a private lift, four en suite bedrooms with nature-inspired bathrooms, a car porch for three cars and a quarter-sized basketball court, a rooftop jacuzzi, gym and workspace-library-studio.
The property owners are a couple that purchased the property that was the 50-year-old double-storey semi-detached house that sits on the freehold site with an area of around 3,900 sq feet on August 17, 2017 $4.2 million according to caveats that were lodged. The trapezoid-shaped site was uninteresting when it first went on the market in the past five years. However, the couple noticed the site fascinating and decided to purchase the property.
They then enlisted Arthur Aw, executive director of the privately owned company that invests in and develops boutiques, Kimen Group, to undertake the design and development for the property. While other developers stayed back from the trapezoid site because of the slope downward, Aw saw it as an opportunity to convert an unorthodox piece of land into an extremely efficient and practical residence. “The site has the widest frontage in the neighborhood and is located at the top of the hill too,” says Aw, who clearly belongs to the”glass-half-full” mindset.
Surrounded by greenery
“This home is built on a “new urban kampong’ design in which the interiors are bright and well-ventilated and there is an area of greenery everywhere you look,” says Aw.
The area that was built up in the new home was increased to 9,000 square feet and covers 3 1/2 floors, which includes the street-level half-basement. The main gate to the house is open to the car patio that is able to accommodate three cars in the basketball court, as well as an area for maintenance work to be staged.
The main feature of the basement level is a high-ceiling, workspace-studio-library on the left and a staircase with a linear fern garden on the right. The fern garden extends across all the way through the home, and ends with an elongated green wall to the rear. There is also sunlight entering through the skylight.
The workspace-studio-library has four work cubicles — one for each family member — and serves as an “office space”. There is also the lounge area with a huge-format smart TV on the other side of the three-seater sofa. It’s perfect for presentations at work or film screenings after a long working day. There’s an additional library located on the mezzanine level that houses bookshelves as well as an oversized massage chair with an outdoor view. A table tennis table with a full size is used as a small-group gathering table or table as well as a wall that is also a storage area. The area was created to be a space for starting-ups that can accommodate at least six people.
“The spaces can serve many uses and were especially helpful during the outbreak during the time when many people worked at their homes,” says Aw.
First floor is the place where living area eating, kitchen, and guest rooms are located. The living room is situated in the front garden, which is surrounded by an urban farm-like back garden which is where blue peas, an array of papaya trees, vegetables and banana trees grow. A Piano and violin area on the first floor flows seamlessly between the dining and living areas and is used as a performing stage “for entertainment and entertainment” according to Aw.
Bathrooms inspired by nature
The second floor has been reserved for the family’s personal quarters which include an open-plan family room as well as four bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and the master suite. As with the first it is separated by a back and front garden.
The four bedrooms with en suite bathrooms on the second level feature the “mini Zen garden” in the bathroom. The idea was an inspiration from the Aw’s “kampong boy” memory. “I lived in Tampines at a time when it was predominantly pig farms. I was a fan of showering outdoors,” says Aw.
The family that lives there has taken to the idea of having nature-inspired bathrooms. After six months of moving in they discovered they noticed that “the plant life in their bathroom en suite are growing extremely well”.
The third floor houses the recreational and entertainment for the family areas. They have an exclusive exercise room, barbecue pit and a jacuzzi pool. There’s also a garden that homeowners have planted lady’s fingers, rosemary (okra) as well as pandan, the lemongrass and eggplant. “The vegetable garden and herb garden receives plenty of sunshine and will provide the family with food grown at home,” says Aw.
To make maintenance easier To make it easier to maintain, all the garden and planter boxes within the home are equipped with an irrigation system semi-automated where you can adjust how much water that is used can be adjusted with the smartphone app.
To ensure that the plants on all levels of the home get enough sunlight An open stairwell connecting the floor with the roof lets sunlight get in. “It offers a unobstructed view of both the outdoor and indoor gardens from any point within the home,” says Aw.
The open stairwell can also serve to act as an air funnel which directs hot air towards the air-extractor fan located on the third floor in order to decrease the requirement of air-conditioning. The energy-efficient fans are throughout the house. The owners claim that they’ve never used air conditioning since moving into the.
The ceiling’s height for each floor is between 3.2m between 3.2m and 3.5m as well as all glass windows and doors have a floor-to-ceiling-height and are equipped with mosquito nets to maximize the amount of daylight and natural airflow. To reduce the requirement for artificial lighting in the daytime glass panels that are placed between the ceiling and wall allow natural light to enter the spaces between every floor. The entire roof is equipped by 26 solar panels significantly reducing the electrical consumption off the grid.
To combat the privacy issue The exterior of the house is covered by a perforated curtain. It operates on the principle that brightness is relative, which allows for ample sunlight and air while also providing the best privacy during the night. “During the daytime, the exterior that is brighter and visible from inside the home and not the reverse opposite way around,” says Aw. “At the night, blinds offer the required privacy. It’s like having an evening light.”
When Kimen was the project and development manager on the design, Aw collaborated with Jerry Lee and Anson Ho of LST Architects, interior designer Calvin Chua of Space Anatomy and Contractor Harry Tan of Shanghai Chong Kee and the landscape creator Li Jun Lek of Greendot Creations. “We are very close with interior and architectural designers as well as architects being directors for the company we have a direct involvement in all of our work,” he says.
It’s more simply an property construction project. The developer also considered how long term maintenance is needed for the property from the owner’s viewpoint. If a house is maintained in addition to the irrigation system that is used for plants, the mechanical and electrical systems, owners might have to repaint or repairs around the house. Therefore, the home has staging rods to Gondolas, which make it easier to do painting and maintenance.
Based on Aw, Kimen considers the following in assessing the diverse real estate projects: site potential, user lifestyle, sustainability of the environment Fine detailing, community spirit, revitalizing art and reinventing history.
“It’s about creating an exceptional worth for land, on a per square foot foundation,” says Aw. “We did not just increase the number of floors, we created practical, rectilinear spaces that have an ambiance of a bungalow on each level of the house.”
Construction and land costs are rising Today, construction costs and land prices are higher.
If a house-owner would decide to renovate and construct an identical property now, it’d be roughly $550-$650 per square foot for the total construction costs, which includes fittings and fixtures. The cost would range the range of $4.95 millions and $5.85 million. If the owner is looking for the flooring to be granite or marble as well as bathrooms with full marble, the price is estimated at $700-$750 per sq ft that is $6.3 million-$6.75 Million, Aw estimates.
This does not include land costs as he notes. Prices for land have increased too. In November the 49,633 square feet 99-year leasehold site located at Bukit Timah Link, which is near Beauty World MRT Station, was purchased to the tune of 200 million ($1,343 per plot ratio (psf)) in the name of Bukit Sembawang Estates. The value of this new project is $2,360 per sq ft, as calculated by EdgeProp’s Landlens analysis tool. The most recent sale of an unfinished semi-detached house located in the Beauty World-Upper Bukit Timah Road neighborhood is for the property located on freehold site that covers 2,698 square feet located at Tham Soong Avenue. The property was purchased in July 2022 for $7.2 million or $2,669 per square foot in relation to land size.
In addition to having an developer through its award-winning main condominium project which is the 130-unit Jervois Mansion, Kimen is also a property investor. Hilltop Capital — whose shareholders include Aw and Sons Capital and Aw Kim Cheng Realty, entities that are part of the Kimen Group — had bought the former Chinatown Hotel on Teck Lim Road which is located just off Keong Saik Road, for $31 million in 2017.
After being renovated and transforming it into the new 45-room Hotel Soloha The property was purchased to a buyer for $53.38 millions in the month of May, 2022. This represents the 72% capital appreciation. But, Hilltop Capital will continue running this hotel over the three years to come.
The company has Jervois Mansion, Hotel Soloha and the recently renovated semi-detached house located in Upper Bukit Timah under its under its belt, Aw wants to position Kimen as an expert in development management across all categories of property — from commercial and residential to industrial. (Find Singapore commercial properties by using our directory of commercial properties)
Aw was a 14-year resident at Ascendas Singbridge, where he was the last adviser and, before that, EVP (EVP) for special initiatives. He was the EVP of Bridge+ workspace solutions under CapitaLand. Before that, he was an entire decade with JTC Corp, where he was the director of land development and was also the deputy director of the one-north development group. Aw holds a doctorate from the highly regarded Architectural Association London and a vast network of contacts between interior designers and architects.
“We are hoping to collaborate with other asset or land owners and share our knowledge in identifying the most profitable potential for their site or property, whether it’s through renovation or redevelopment on an already existing property to make something of outstanding worth,” he says.