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What to expect from Philippines' most expensive condominium

Posted: Jul 05,2019

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An ultra-luxury residential condominium being developed in the heart of Makati is grabbing headlines for its eye-watering price tag of around P600,000 per square meters (sq.m.).

But price is no object for the uber-wealthy individuals being targeted for The Estate Makati — the first building in the Philippines designed by award-winning British architectural design and engineering firm Foster + Partners.

A project of ST 6747 Resources Corp. — the joint venture between Sy-led SM Development Corp. and Ty-led Federal Land), The Estate Makati is expected to become the “crowning jewel” of Ayala Avenue.

Hans “Chico” Sy, Jr., president of SM Engineering, Design and Development, said they knew early on that they wanted to create a something unique, a statement piece, that the market will sit up and take notice of. This was why Foster + Partners, known for such architectural gems such as the Hearst Tower in New York City, 30 Saint Mary Axe Building (also known as The Gherkin) in London and HSBC Building in Hong Kong, was the number one choice for the project.

“When we started The Estate, the biggest question was: what was it about apartments today that don’t really appreciate very well in market value? Unlike Forbes Park… The challenge was simple: find out what was it about residential lots that made it escalate in value. We challenged each other on that point. What was it we can do to ensure that this was not just another residential project, that this was really a true investment,” he said during a briefing in Makati City last June 24.

Mr. Sy said they studied what the Forbes Park living experience was, and sought to recreate that same sense of privacy and exclusivity with The Estate Makati.

“Residents truly appreciated the exclusivity, the privacy. No matter what, inside those gated walls, they were safe… One of the things we looked for in approaching The Estate was the giving the sense of exclusivity,” he said.

Michael John V. Espiritu, managing director at environmental design consultancy firm Crearsis, said the entrance will have a variety of native trees creating a canopy that provides residents with privacy — and evoke the same feeling Forbes Park residents get when they enter the exclusive village.

Another unique feature of The Estate Makati is that the building will rest on a plinth at least one storey from street level.

“We’re the only building on Apartment Ridge that arrives on Ayala Avenue… Imagine you drive up, arriving at one storey high, above the buses of Ayala Avenue, overlooking the street,” Mr. Sy said.

For The Estate Makati, Foster + Partners created a cross-shaped building in order to minimize the exposure to the sun’s rays.

“As the sun in the Philippines is quite strong, we designed the windows to be angled a certain way so that it doesn’t spill into the unit but still provides enough light — without compromising the breathtaking views of the Makati skyline,” Luke Fox, Foster + Partners head of studio and senior executive partner, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The 53-storey building offers 188 units, ranging from 151 square meters (sq.m.) two-bedroom flats to the multi-level 763 sq.m “super penthouse” suites. Prices start at P90 million.

There will only be four units to a floor, with each floor having a sequestered lift lobby. It will have one of the most generous elevator arrangements of two private lifts for every unit.

Another feature that sets The Estate Makati apart is that it uses double-slab technology. With utilities, plumbing, and electricals concealed in between double slabs of concrete, the unit layout can be customized by the homeowner.

“If we wanted to make sure this unit would stand the test of time, you would have to be able to change it up to your will. How can we make it so flexible?… That’s how double-slab technology came in. It’s not a new technology, but it’s new in its application to the residential market. We think this is one of the first global applications on a residential level. That’s why Fosters was so tickled about it,” Mr. Sy said.

The building also has a stain-resistant facade, and uses double-glazed windows for insulation and noise control.

“No unit is ‘weak,’ we took into account every unit and asked ourselves is this unit ‘weak’? What would make people think this unit is subpar compared to the others? Making sure every aspect was considered. Level of detail of this project is far, fare more developed than your typical project… Fosters is involved in every detail of this building. We expect to deliver a building that is truly world-class,” Mr. Sy said.

Another key strength of The Estate Makati’s units is the views — either Ayala Avenue or Apartment Ridge Road side (facing Urdaneta Village).

To ensure privacy, windows in each unit will use “privacy glass” and will be angled in such a way to prevent neighbors in nearby buildings from getting a peek inside.

Instead of a grand main lobby, The Estate Makati will have private lounges where residents can entertain guests.

“The sense of privacy was key to the lobby design… We wanted to deliver facilities and amenities that residents would feel that this relates to me, this makes sense to me. This is why instead of a normal grand reception… we decided to create different spaces and let residents decide on their favorite spot. Even if you’re a resident, sometimes you just feel like you want to be part of the community,” Mr. Sy said.

For the elevated pool on the second level, there will be an overhanging canopy to protect the residents from prying eyes.

“We’re blocking the view from the outside, street level but when you’re in the pool area, you can still see between the trees and enjoy the view,” Mr. Espiritu said.

Residents can also have access to private function rooms as well as gym and yoga facilities for one-on-one sessions. There is also a wine lounge, which offers bottle keep services for residents.

While the units do not have balconies, there is a Sky Garden on the 25th floor.

“The amenities are spread out not just on the lower floors but on the mid-floors as well so people from the low and high zones can meet in the middle part, with a nice view area,” Gary L. Coscolluela, senior partner at W.V. Coscolluela & Associates and local architect consultant for The Estate Makati, said.

Mr. Coscolluela said The Estate Makati is aiming to be the first LEED Gold Version 4-certified residential building in the country.

“The Estate, like anything else, is a reflection of who you are… From the moment that you arrive, it’s already saying something about the people who live there, what their values are. The nice thing about this project is that it is so specifically designed for a certain clientele in mind, they appreciate these things. There’s something great about being in a high-rise condo, you want all of that but you want that privacy. You can be part of something amazing but feel like you are the only person there,” Thomas F. Mirasol, general manager of Federal Land, Inc., said.

--Cathy Rose A. Garcia

Article from BusinessWorld

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