Architectural Marvels


The most renowned and award-winning homes which have been designed by the most notable architects in the world. By: Kimberly Tan

Este Villa, Singapore

53Having won the International Property Award in the Asia Pacific Region for the Best Architecture Multiple Residence Singapore in 2014, The Este Villa (, designed by AGA Architects is truly a thing of beauty. The residences (priced around US$2.6m each), made up of several three-storey homes, are tucked away in a quiet, private enclave in the Seletar Hills Estate, with close proximity to shopping and dining amenities.

Resembling a tropical resort, most of the residences are designed around a waterscape that leads to a leisure pool, a lap pool and a lagoon spa sanctuary connected by boardwalks. To further accentuate the concept, a gardenscape has been meticulously crafted, including a flower trail, bamboo promenade, hedge walk and a Bucida grove.

Each of these residences has a basement, private home lift and an attic with a roof terrace, and two private carpark lots. The high ceiling in the basement allows the flexibility of creating a loft, which could house a music room or home office. All these units contain five bedrooms plus a utility room, a fully equipped kitchen and are north-south facing, minimising exposure to the heat and glare of the afternoon sun. The team from AGA Architects has also won seven awards for its other projects since 2007.

The Ocean Flower, Maldives

52Developed by Dutch Docklands, the Ocean Flower, so called because of its shape in the North Male atoll, is one of the five oceanfront developments in the Maldives. Residences (prices start from US$3.5m) follow the outline of the gleaming flower-shaped white path, leading to a spectacular pool in the middle of the flower, framed against deep blue waters. Its design was commended by the International Property Awards as the Best Architecture Multiple Residence Maldives, winning five stars. At the same event, they also won the Best Residential Development, Best Property Single Unit Maldives & Asia Pacific and the Best Real Estate Agency Maldives.

The 185 spectacular waterfront villas (up to 5,204sqm) all have private pools, and are built in conventional Maldivian architectural style. It constitutes minimalist décor, earthy colours, high vaulted ceilings and an open plan design, a must to enjoy the best of the unblocked views of the ocean. The master bedroom suite contains its own terrace and sundeck and the master bed can be rolled outside for its owners to sleep under the stars. Another unique feature is the underwater room with glass wall in the basement, surrounded by marine life, replicating the effect of having a large aquarium. A gymnasium and in-house cinema room is located adjacent to this room. The team behind Dutch Docklands, Paul H.T.M van de Camp and Koen Olthuis MSc have established themselves and their company as the global leader in floating developments, concepts and infrastructure. They have planned for a floating hotel in Norway, possibly shaped like a snowflake and will be unveiling the world’s first floating golf course in 2015 in the Maldives.

The Opus Hong Kong, China

51Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry says, “I designed the building for Hong Kong, to respond to the unique conditions of the city. You wouldn’t build this anywhere else.” Framed by the hillside, the Opus Hong Kong built in 2012, has been designed with an organic feel, where finely tuned glass columns twist up and around the building, giving “a delicacy to the façade”, Frank says. These columns also diminish the need for load-bearing walls, so the façade of the building can be made almost completely out of glass and the interiors can benefit from panoramic views.

12 luxury residential units occupy the space; two double level-garden apartments with private swimming pools on the lower levels and 10 apartments above. It promises residents the luxury of 6,200sq ft of space, with each apartment occupying an entire floor and with access to the three rooftop swimming pools. Each residence offers 360 degree views of practically the entire Hong Kong, its cosmopolitan high-rise buildings on one side and lush green hillsides on the other. The five-bedroom units are large enough for a sizeable dining room, living room and a study. One resident was so enamoured with the architecture that he purchased an apartment for a staggering US$61m. Frank Gehry, whose previous accomplishments include building the Guggenheim Museum, has also designed the Ronald Davis Studio & Residence where celebrity Patrick Dempsey and his family later stayed.

World One, India

50World One at 120 storeys high in Mumbai is slated to become the world’s highest residential building. The project, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, has yet to be completed, but it has already swept the Green Good Design Award for Architecture, awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum in 2012. This is due to its sustainable measures such as cross-ventilated apartments, high-performance Low-E glazing, automated lighting controls, solar shading, green roofs, Dark Sky-compliant exterior lighting, recycled content and usage of local materials. In addition, the 17ac mixed-use development, which began its planning in 2009 and construction in 2011, will have rainwater harvesting, gray water treatment and recycling with a black water sewage treatment plant.

The 291 residential units comprise six world residences (prices up to US$8.3m) per floor in the first tier, two world villas per floor in the second tier and finally duplex world mansions in the top tier. Its furnishings are likely to be designed by Armani/Casa and will also include a six-level club and spa, and a sporting arena. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners was founded by legendary architect I M Pei, together with Eason H Leonard and Henry N Cobb. It has garnered several awards like the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Society of Architects and in 2009 the Firm Award from the New York State AIA to recognise the firm for its “notable achievements in design, community service, education and service to the profession.”

Beko Masterplan, Serbia

49An old textile factory in Belgrade, Serbia is slated to be given a new lease of life. Its reincarnation will take the form of a fluid design merging a luxurious five-star hotel, conference centre, department store and shops, art galleries and offices, ensuring that residents have copious amenities (its completion date has yet to be announced). Handling this transformation is the highly lauded team from Zaha Hadid & Architects, helmed by the inspirational Dame Zaha Hadid, who has won a multitude of awards including the Pritzker Prize, the Thomas Jefferson Medal and the Jane Drew Prize for her “outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture”.

For this project, they designed a series of buildings as a range of flow lines carving out the landscape and creating a continuum where undulations, balconies, roof edges, bridges and outdoor spaces all flow into each other. Residents will enjoy views of the confluence of Belgrade’s two rivers and the Kalemegdan Castle. The project which has started construction this year and has an estimated investment exceeding US$267m, will complement the waterfront public space designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Ranch House, New Mexico

The house that Tadao Ando built in 2012 for fashion designer, film director and now part-time cowboy Tom Ford is located in a 24,000ac property in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As is classic of most of Tadao’s works, the lines are simple and clean, grey concrete curves accentuating the circular paddock, leading out to a platform over water and to the main buildings, also in the same grey concrete. The main house (price undisclosed) is a single-storied block, with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the landscape, before leading out into a single concrete slab marking perhaps the entrance of the property. The residence, which reportedly contains a mausoleum, a garage and an equine facility, is also a perfect play on light and shadows, something that is classic of Tadao’s work.

The architect has won several illustrious awards, including the Pritzker Prize, the AIA Gold Medal and the UIA Gold Medal from the International Union of Architects. In addition he has been conferred the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and the Order of Culture from the Japanese Emperor. He is perhaps the only architect to have also won all four of architecture’s most lauded prizes, which includes the aforementioned Pritzker Prize as well as the Carlsberg Architectural Prize (International), the Kyoto Prize from the Imamori Foundation and the Praemium Imperiale First “FRATE SOLE” Award in Architecture.

Emandar Group, Australia

Within two weeks of its release, the East Quays One property by developer Emandar Group had already sold 30 per cent of its units. Joint Managing Directors George Mastrocostas and Evan Raptis attributed this success to the careful site selection, attention to design and market-sensitive pricing. Located in the East Quays drive in Gold Coast, Australia, the residences are within close proximity to amenities like the Links Hope Island Golf Course and the Sanctuary Cove and Marina, and a half hour’s drive to the Gold Coast Hinterland and Stradbroke Island.

The beautiful property comprises 110 apartments that have amazing water, garden or pool views. Of these, the largest is the three-bedroom residences plus study apartments, which will be priced around US$367,277. These are furnished with high quality fixtures and fittings such as stainless steel appliances, stone bench tops and gloss porcelain tiles throughout the living areas. The facilities include an onsite gymnasium, poolside entertaining area and rooftop residents’ lounges, above ground parking and integrated shared entry driveways.