Design awards for HDB estates

Design awards for HDB estates 


Sengkang, Ghim Moh estates score well for innovative design, user-friendly features

By Ong Bi Hui 

HOUSING Board estates are not known for their innovative designs, but two cutting-edge ones are starting to change all that.

They have just become the first HDB estates to win design awards for both their good looks and user-friendly features.


The Coris, a precinct in Sengkang New Town, and the upgraded Ghim Moh Gardens estate, which is 32 years old, both won bronze awards at the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Universal Design Awards.


‘Universal Design’ generally refers to design that allows users to get around easily, with easy-to-use facilities.


The BCA Awards were launched in September last year, and this year saw 34 entries submitted, with most entries refurbished buildings.


Both estates stood out due to their accessibility to residents, with seamless connectivity throughout.


The Coris at Sengkang, which has 14 residential blocks, had a comprehensive signage system so visitors can find their way around easily. There are also various recreational and communal facilities, including an area for the elderly to exercise, jogging tracks and pavilions.


Ghim Moh Gardens features wheelchair-friendly lifts that stop at every floor, safer clothes-drying racks and elderly-friendly toilets. Getting around is easy, with markets and bird- viewing spots all linked by sheltered walkways.


Source: Straits Times

No gold award winner at universal design awards as BCA raises benchmark

No gold award winner at universal design awards as BCA raises benchmark


SINGAPORE: Several buildings have won silver and bronze in the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA’s) annual Universal Design (UD) Awards 2008.


The office housing Xilinx’s Asia Pacific headquarters which boasts natural sunlight, wide passageways and employee-friendly facilities clinched the silver award.


However, the competition which has been held for the second year, did not see any gold award winners again.


Its organiser, BCA has raised the benchmark.


Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, Chairman, Universal Design Award Panel, said: “We need buildings to provide UD the facilities, more comprehensively in an integrated manner. And I suppose, another thing is that UD is relatively new in Singapore, and so it will take time for developers and owners to raise the standards by which they provide UD designs. ”


Singapore Changi Airport‘s Terminal 3 is another one of the three silver award recipients.


Besides new buildings, the award also recognises upgraded buildings like the old National Museum of Singapore which is now called the Singapore History Museum. It also grabbed the silver award.


Among the six bronze recipients was the Mandai Crematorium & Columbarium which was completed in 2004.


Some of its award-winning features include smooth integration with adjacent buildings and its user-friendly layout.


Other bronze award recipients include Ang Mo Kio Bus Interchange, The Coris condominium, Ghim Moh Gardens housing estate, IMM Building and Plaza Singapura shopping mall. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel News Asia

CapitaLand goes green

CapitaLand goes green 


Real estate company kicks off campaign encouraging use of re-usable bags

By Nicholas Fang 

PROPERTY giant CapitaLand has launched a new campaign to encourage users of its malls, offices and serviced apartments here to adopt a green lifestyle.


It is starting the initiative with 100,000 re-usable shopping bags that come with a novel incentive programme.


CapitaLand president and chief executive officer Liew Mun Leong said that, while the idea of re-usable shopping bags is not new, the company has added a new twist.


‘It will have a mini loyalty programme to further influence our shoppers to adopt a greener way of shopping.’


Those who pick up one of the bags – to be given out at CapitaLand malls – will be able to collect stamps when they use the bags.


Three stamps will entitle them to a limited edition umbrella.


CapitaLand’s ‘Building a Greener Future’ programme kicked off on Thursday with a ceremony at the Raffles City shopping centre which was officiated by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.


The programme will comprise a series of further initiatives over the next few years.


Mr Liew said that, from today, 168 customised recycling bins will also be placed at the company’s 22 malls, offices and Ascott serviced residences.


Source: Straits Times

Sales in private residential market dip in April

Sales in private residential market dip in April


SINGAPORE: Sales in the private residential market have dipped in April after a mild recovery in March.


According to the numbers of private home sales released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), only 274 units were sold last month – down from 301 units in March.


Developers were also holding back, with only 271 units launched in April – the lowest number of units since market weakness surfaced in September last year.


Analysts said they expect the market to continue moving gingerly.


Homebuyers in the mass market are keeping the numbers moving along as nine out of every 10 units sold in April were in the suburban areas. This belies the overall cautious stance that homebuyers are taking.


Chua Chor Hoon, Senior Director of Research, DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, said: “Speculation is almost nil. Most buyers we see in the market are probably those buying for owner occupation, with needs for accommodation.”


With buying and selling almost at a standstill, analysts said the ball is now in the developers’ court.


Colin Tan, Director of Research & Consultancy, Chesterton International, said: “Looking forward, you can see that in order to raise their sales, developers will need to price their units more realistically. As you can see from the April figures, those that have done so are being rewarded with higher sales.”


But the URA figures also show that prices remain firm for high-end units and developers for those units are choosing to wait out.


“Developers are still holding back launches, especially for bigger projects and those at higher end range. What we see are mostly launches in suburban areas with units priced below S$1,000 psf,” Mr Chua said.


While the latest data may seem to provide more evidence of a weak housing market, analysts said numbers are very thin and have cautioned against reading too deeply into them as they could be potentially misleading.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Banyan Tree reports 38% increase in Q1 earnings to S$15.4m

Banyan Tree reports 38% increase in Q1 earnings to S$15.4m


SINGAPORE: Mainboard listed Banyan Tree Holdings on Thursday announced it has booked a 38 per cent increase in first quarter earnings.


Its net income for the three months ended March 31 came in at S$15.4 million, largely driven by growth in its hotel investment and hotel residence/property sales segments.


Its revenue rose by 34 per cent to S$140.3 million.


Banyan Tree said it is cautiously optimistic for the next few quarters.


It has a strong pipeline of 49 new resorts opening over the next four years, with 11 new spas expected to open in the next few quarters.


Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree, said: “What we see for the balance of this year – both in terms of hotel business and property sales remain strong.


“We do not seem to be affected by the sub-prime crisis. So we remain optimistic that this year, we should be able to perform quite well.” – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Yong Nam Holdings reports 267% jump in Q1 profit to S$6m

Yong Nam Holdings reports 267% jump in Q1 profit to S$6m


SINGAPORE: The building boom in Singapore and the Middle East is proving to be a boon for engineering and construction company Yong Nam Holdings.


Its net profit for the first quarter rose 267 percent to about S$6 million. Revenues increased 56 percent to S$47.4 million.


Yong Nam saw increased activities from projects such as Orchard Turn, Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, Formula One and the Dubai Metro Rail.


Going forward, Yong Nam said it is optimistic that the strong operational performance will continue in financial year 2008.


The company is citing the government’s S$50 billion plan to improve the Singapore’s transport infrastructure in the coming years.


This includes the construction of the Marina Coastal Expressway, the Thomson MRT line, the MRT Downtown line and the Eastern Region MRT line.


The Building and Construction Authority has estimated that 2008 will see a record S$27 billion in construction contracts being awarded – 10 percent higher than the year before.


In the Middle East, Yong Nam said it continues to experience an upsurge of infrastructure developments.


The company’s order book stood at S$277 million as at March 31.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

GIC says sub-prime crisis beginning to hurt Asian property markets

GIC says sub-prime crisis beginning to hurt Asian property markets


SINGAPORE: The US sub-prime crisis has begun to hurt Asian property markets, the real estate investment arm of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) said at the FT Asia Property Summit on Thursday.


While Wall Street starts picking up the pieces from the sub-prime crisis, GIC said, the Asian property market has just started to feel the impact.


The investor added the fallout would be even greater if the US went into a full-blown recession.


Seek Ngee Huat, president of GIC Real Estate, said: “The contagion effects of the sub-prime crisis can potentially put a downward spin (on) the current cycle. While the sub-prime crisis may be seen essentially as a transatlantic problem, its ripple effects are certainly being felt here in Asia.”


GIC, however, remained upbeat, saying that the sub-prime meltdown presents not just threats but also opportunities.


It noted that Asia will continue to be the growth region of the future, attracting foreign investors in search of higher returns and diversification, as emerging cities in China and India move aggressively to become first-tier cities in the world in 10 to 20 years.


Mr Seek said: “It, therefore, may make sense to take some short-term risk in order to position for the long term, for many of these institutional investors. In fact, if one takes a long view, the pricing in emerging markets, which is starting from a low base, should have tremendous upside.”


GIC Real Estate has some 300 investments spread across 30 countries around the world. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Frasers Centrepoint Trust plans to refurbish suburban malls

Frasers Centrepoint Trust plans to refurbish suburban malls


SINGAPORE: Following the S$13 million makeover of Anchorpoint Shopping Centre, Frasers Centrepoint Trust has plans to turn its attention to other suburban malls under its stable.


Anchorpoint’s new look appears to be getting the thumbs up from retailers.


Lee Hsien Yang, chairman of Fraser & Neave, said: “Anchorpoint used to be occupied by furniture shops, but I think we felt there was a niche in the market for this kind of concept, so we mixed it with food and beverage. We think people will come and try, and we think we have some interesting restaurants here.”


Rents have gone up by 40 percent following the makeover to as much as S$7.50 psf.


Since refurbishments were completed in March this year, the mall has seen a jump of almost 20 percent in shopper traffic and Frasers expects this to increase substantially going forward.


Frasers’ next step is an almost S$40 million expansion of Northpoint, which is due to complete in mid-2009. This will be followed by works on Yew Tee Mall, which comes under its wing next year, and Bedok Mall by 2011.


The REIT said it is continuing to look for overseas potential.


Christopher Tang, CEO of Frasers Centrepoint Trust, said: “We are looking into the emerging market of Vietnam. We are looking at some of the malls there and other than that, we already have two malls in China that are under development. We will be launching a smaller suburban mall in Australia soon.”


Despite the anticipated global economic slowdown, Frasers said it remains bullish about Singapore’s retail and urban mall sector.


The latest numbers show that retail sales rose by a better-than-expected 5.6 percent in March, compared to a year ago.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

IMF chief says worst of financial crisis is over

IMF chief says worst of financial crisis is over


BRUSSELS – The worst of the financial sector crisis is over although the impact on the broader economy will likely drag on in coming months, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Thursday.


‘There are good reasons to believe that the largest part of disclosure in financial institutions has been done, especially in the United States… so that the worst news is behind us,’ he told a panel at the European Parliament.


‘The main problem is the linkages between the financial crisis and the real economy and this is not behind us,’ he added, estimating the impact of the financial turmoil to weigh on economic activity for another ‘several quarters’.


Economic growth has lost pace in most major economies recently in the wake of a slump in the US housing market, which has triggered extreme financial market volatility and reluctance among banks to make all but the safest loans. — AFP


Source: Business Times

S’pore hotel rates will rise further: CityDev

S’pore hotel rates will rise further: CityDev


SINGAPORE – Singapore hotel rates will continue to rise this year despite the slowing global economy due to a shortage of rooms, the head of the city state’s largest hotel operator said on Thursday.


‘Because of the sub-prime crisis, the higher-end … hotels have less ability to increase their rates. But we are still having a shortage,’ said City Developments executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng.


He told reporters on the sidelines of a real estate conference that there had been many periods this year when the company’s hotels in Singapore were 100 per cent occupied due to the sharp rise in intra-Asian travel.


Singapore’s average hotel room rate rose 24 per cent to $238 (US$172.70) a night in the 12 months to March, bringing it close to the level in Hong Kong, which stood at HK$1,362 (US$174.60).


Occupancy levels in the city state averaged 87 per cent last year, above the 85 per cent mark that hoteliers consider optimal to manage any daily mismatch between supply and demand.


Mr Kwek said the rise in intra-regional travel within Asia and changing lifestyles would ensure demand for rooms remains strong even if there is a decline in visitors from the West.


‘In the old days, you go for holidays once a year. Now you go three to four times a year,’ he said.


CityDev owns the ultra-luxury St Regis hotel in Singapore and is the largest shareholder in CDL Hospitality Trusts, a property trust that owns five hotels in the city state. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times