Thursday, December 1 2022

A common criticism is that Singaporean houses are all ‘cookie cutter’, with developers rarely daring to take risks. But some developers managed to be bold despite the risk of five-year delays and ABSD rates; or built interesting houses in the years before these became factors. These include the conventionally unique locations like The Interlace or the next piers at CanningHill.

There are others though, that fly under the radar of what we would consider to be really interesting houses in Singapore. Coincidentally (or not), all of the houses on this list were before the introduction of developer ABSD,

Here are some of the most interesting and unique residences we found in Singapore:

1. Thomson Plaza Townhouses

Officially known as the Marigold Mews, these townhouses have been neglected for decades. They didn’t surface until July of this year, when 19 units went on collective sale for $158 million (bidding closed on 18e August, no further news).

What is special about these units? Well, as the name suggests, it’s actually a residential part of Thomson Plaza: a shopping mall along Upper Thomson. Even long-time residents are often unaware that Thomson Plaza has a residential component; the former shopping center (built in 1979) is best known for being the closest FairPrice Finest to Adelphi Park residents.

Townhouse units are massive, ranging from 2,411 square feet to 4,133 square feet. All units are two-story and have their own front driveway and rear garden. They are connected to Thomson Plaza by an unusual series of support beams and were originally built by CapitaLand (formerly DBS Land).

As they are attached to Thomson Plaza this would mean that the Upper Thomson MRT (Thomson-East Coast Line) is only a three minute walk away; much more accessible than many land enclaves.

Alas, we don’t think the townhouses will stick around for long. The next buyer of these 19 townhouses will likely be a major entity and one that has its eye on the Mall and Marigold Mews redevelopment.

the worry meows

With only 56 years remaining on the lease, it will be difficult to find individual buyers. The last known transaction was in 2018 when a 2,960 square foot unit was sold for approximately $1.77 million; it is difficult to predict the price today, given the lack of additional trading volume.

2. A single bungalow at the top of International Plaza

Located next to MRT Tanjong Pagar station, International Plaza is a well-known landmark in the CBD. There are, however, 210 residential units in International Plaza itself – the most recent being a 1,033 square foot unit which traded for just $1.2 million in September this year.

(If that sounds exceptionally cheap, keep in mind this is a leasehold property completed circa 1976).

If you must stay in the CBD area, this represents one of the most affordable private options you can find. The units here also start on the 37th floor, so you are guaranteed to have views of the upper floors of the residential units.

international square bungalow
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However, the most interesting unit is probably a single rooftop bungalow in International Plaza. This 4,000+ square foot unit is listed as a penthouse and recent information indicates a rental rate of approximately $15,000 per month.

Not much else is known about this – but if you’re willing to pay the combined monthly mortgage of more than three families to live at the top of Anson Road, well, now you know another option.

3. The Haniffa Building on Keng Lee Road

This building is known for its unusual roof; and before you ask what those swirling painted globes are, your guess is as good as ours. We do not know if it is a purely decorative or really functional element. What we can definitely see is a rooftop pool with a great view.

haniffa building

The Hanniffa Building harks back to a now-defunct tradition: until the early 1900s, it was common for some patriarchs to build a gigantic complex, to house the entire extended family. (The Karikal Mahal at Marine Parade, better known today as a large day care centre, is one example).

The Hanniffa Building is a 12-storey residential property, built by OK businessman Mohamed Haniffa; it is dedicated for the use of his family of 15 and their five helpers.

(For readers familiar with the name, yes, it’s the same person behind the Hanniffa textile company in Dunlop Street.)

The Haniffa Building would have cost $9 million when completed in 2009 and would have been redeveloped from a bungalow on the same location. At the time, it was reported that each of the owners’ five children lived on two floors in the building.

4. The Colonnade at Grange Road

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Built to architectural fame in 1998, this unique monument is the work of Paul Rudolph; the same architect behind the famous Lippo Center in Hong Kong (you can read a bit more about him here).

The Colonnade takes its name from its most distinctive feature: a series of columns support the tower almost like stilts; and if you look closely they are not level – the columns raise the base of the building to different heights.

colonnaded condominium
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The unusual facade is one of the most recognizable in the Orchard area – and the 90 units of this freehold condo are huge. While there’s no consistent exact size (they range from nearly 3,000 to over 7,000 square feet), each unit has two stories and a floor-to-ceiling window that spans the entire height .

The first floor houses a guest bedroom and a bathroom, and the second floor contains the other two bedrooms. It is possible to see the common areas, such as the living room, from the second floor balcony. This makes the interior feel more like a landed house than a regular condo unit.

There is no transaction recorded because the units are not for sale. Instead, they’re available for rent, with monthly prices ranging from $9,000 to $21,000 per month.

5. Les Palissades and its funicular

We almost lost The Palisades in a bulk sale last year, so we’re glad it’s still around. However, come see it soon: This condo has only 18 units and is in a prime location 10 minutes walk from Haw Par Villa MRT station. If it weren’t for the volatile economic situation, we’re sure the developers are eager to jump on it.

Palissades Funicular
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Palisades has one of the most unique facades we have seen on a condo. While it has a strong ’80s vibe (read: it might look dated), it manages to be different, with its mostly circular construction.

The highlight of The Palisades is the funicular lift, of which there are thought to be only 10 in the world. The architect wanted The Palisades to blend into the hill on which it sits; the elevator therefore travels more like a tram on a 22 degree slope.

(Warning, if the elevator is broken, it’s a problem because it’s the only one – so residents will have to climb the stairs).

The funicular elevator, like units at The Palisades, offers waterfront views; the project faces the PSA terminal and the Singapore Strait, just across the West Coast Highway.

6. Reignwood Hamilton Scotts and his car lift

You’ve probably seen Reignwood Hamilton Scotts before, even if you don’t know him by name. This is the condo next to the famous Indocafe (the white house) on Scotts Road; along the same stretch as the Sheraton Hotel.

hamilton scotts

This condo is famous for its car lift system: instead of a regular parking lot, the car lift allows residents to bring their car to any floor they are on. The vehicle will be parked just outside where the lounge is located. There is enough space for two cars, for each of the 56 units.

Mind you, this condo probably isn’t as nice if you don’t have a nice car to show off. But with transaction prices reaching $6.5 million for a 2,755-square-foot unit, anyone living here can probably afford the car to go with it.

If you know of any unique or interesting homes in Singapore, let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, you can follow us on Stacked, for news and updates on Singapore’s private property market.

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