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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Shopping haven

By The Star

LOCATED in Kota Baru, the capital of Kelantan, KB Mall has become a popular shopping haven that is successful and modern. Locals and tourists from Terengganu, Pahang and even Southern Thailand are drawn to it.

Its aims to be the “one stop shopping mall” so it emphasises on convenience for shoppers.

Wholly owned and managed by Y.S. Tang Holdings Sdn Bhd, KB Mall is a joint venture with Perbadanan Kemajuan Iktisad Negeri Kelantan (PKINK).

KB Mall opened its doors in 2004 and has since enjoyed a high occupancy rate of 98% with an average growth of 7.5% per annum.

The Mall is strategically located at the junction of four main roads: Jalan Hamzah/Sultan Ismail/Sultan Yahya Petra/Kuala Kerai and transportation is easily available. The 24-hour CCTV surveillance ensures maximum security and handicap-friendly facilities are also available with vertical transportation, travelators, escalators, user-friendly toilets and lifts from basements to the upper floors.

KB Mall’s anchor tenant is Pacific Hypermarket and Departmental Store, a 2-in-1 concept where a single premise houses a hypermarket, departmental store and home mart. All together there are over 180 retail shops offering fashion and accessories, jewellery and timepieces, cosmetics and fragrances, souvenir and gifts, home furnishing and decoration, health and personal care. The Pacific Group is also found in Alor Star Mall, Batu Pahat Mall and Taiping Mall – the newest of which will open its doors to shoppers in 2009.

The opening of KB Mall has created 2,000 over new business opportunities for local retailers. The shopping mall has created an immense impact on the local socio-economy – new jobs, training and experience are provided to local entrepreneurs.

KB Mall is just the first phase of an integrated building with further expansion plans in the works. It is the largest shopping mall in Kelantan and is not only a success story to the developer but also to the city of Kota Baru.

Practical patronage

KB Mall, the largest mall in Kota Baru, clinched the Malaysia Property Award 2007 in the Retail Development category. It is a prestigious award much sought after by developers as it brings immediate recognition to the property.

Yiap Toon Cheng, General Manager at Y.S. Tang Holdings Sdn Bhd, says that KB Mall is built with practical patronage in mind of its customers and caters more towards user-friendliness even for the disabled, and is not just about fancy framework. A big brownie point awarded to KB Mall by FIABCI evaluators is the Mall’s unique feature of it being built around existing shops.

This is planned with high foresight by the management – there will be minimum disturbance to other buildings within the vicinity when work commences on subsequent phases of development. With a modern layout that is subtle and suits local traditions and tastes, KB Mall is built with a spacious, linear design with high ceilings and maximum visibility through clear unobstructed views. Plans are afoot to further expand the development into an integrated building, with a new business class hotel, service apartments and shop offices. KB Mall will also have a brand new six-hall cineplex and a gymnasium for shoppers to get their dose of entertainment and workouts when expansion plans are complete.

Green homes

By The Star

The Pinggiran Bayou Village gated residence is the first green development that truly handles Mother Nature with the finesse of a 21st century environmentalist.

UNLIKE other developments, the beauty of our development is in gradual sequence; after the slow enticement, we give you the ‘wow’ factor,” says General Manager, Property Division of Mulpha International Bhd Ronn Yong.

The award-winning developer has done it again, this time winning the Malaysia Property Award 2007 in the Residential (Low Rise) category.

“We feel very honoured to have won this award. We wanted to redefine community living in a different way. We aimed to develop something unique for a certain group of people and we paid attention to detail. Pinggiran Bayou is now our benchmark for future works,” says Yong.

The Pinggiran Bayou clubhouse at night.

122 Village Homes define this 7-acre plot. The monsoon drain facing the development is today a panoramic canal.

“The concept of Pinggiran Bayou is reminiscent of the little towns in Bali and the hill towns of Tuscany,” says Yong who has seen much during his travels. “We’ve infused a village ambience and created a community spirit, which is very much the hallmark of our development.”

“Homeowners have told us how they love the morning climate when they go for walks. The sound of birds chirping, the cool air and the greenery is truly a balm to the soul,” adds Koh Boon Teng, Senior Sales & Marketing Manager, Property Division.

Living in a quaint hill town

Launched in 2003, Pinggiran Bayou epitomises resort living. Today, it is 70% sold, with 50% purchased by Singaporeans keen on having a weekend home to experience the surreal pleasures only the countryside can give. The rest are maintained as rental homes for its surrounding expatriate community, although request for sales can still be considered.

“We’ve incorporated all the qualities of a Singaporean condominium – modern and clean designs –ensuring a similar fabric within a neighbourhood while adding our local flavour and all the things a typical condominium cannot have such as courtyards, gardens and great outdoor spaces,” begins Yong.

“It serves as a great weekend home for Singaporeans who will have the luxury of wide spaces and fresh air.”

Pinggiran Bayou is certainly unique for its perceptive conceptualisation to its inclusion of Mother Nature.

“Normal terrace houses are built in barracks or clusters of hundreds, but here, our homes are built in clusters of four and cascaded on different gradients. That creates a village feel, an identity, and corridors and open spaces that encourage lighting and ventilation. Homes at the top will have a great view. Even a person walking through the row of homes will also enjoy a better view.”

General Manager, Property Division of Mulpha International Bhd Ronn Yong.
This master plan with its clusters of smaller cascading modules and environmentally sustainable designs have helped to minimise excavation, speed up the construction process, reduce the need for landfill and reduce the reliance on heavy engineered and reinforced concrete retaining walls.

Wide-open spaces are very much in sync here, for houses aren’t built in a boring single file, but taper outwards. So, when one drives down a street, it feels like one is going down a winding road.

“Our roads are textured, so a driver passing by tends to slow down. We do this because priority is given to pedestrians. We don’t like speed bumps because they’re annoying and aren’t good for your car,” explains Yong.

And where do you congregate for suburban gossip?

The Spanish Step Gardens at Pinggiran Bayou is inspired by the Piazza Del Senora in Rome, a famous row of steps where three roads meet.

“People congregate and do everything there.

We are doing the same here and it becomes almost like a central place in a town where people meet. It’s a great place to take in the view and take a refreshing break. We’ve taken into account that the weather here is a little hot, so we’ve added trees all around the Steps. We’ve also noticed that our customers come with old people and sometimes wheelchairs, so the Steps and the rest of the development is disabled-friendly, with ramps for easy access.”

Village Homes that would make Al Gore beam

“This is an environmentally-conscious development,” says Yong. “Full usage of light and ventilation is utilised so energy bills can be reduced.

“Our homes are built with canopies on top of the windows, for more than art’s sake. For one, it shades your building, and you don’t get direct sunlight when the windows are open. See, if the sun’s too glaring, no one will want to keep the windows open, hence the air conditioning.

“The canopy blocks off glaring light, and what enters is indirect light; it’ll be cooling. With your windows open, you have a gentle breeze coming in and out as well.

“We don’t just have large windows as well.

Some developments may have large windows but they let in bad sunlight. Our directions have been carefully calculated and homeowners won’t be getting the east-west sun, which is bad. There’s no splash of light and your room is kept cool,” he says.

Each home has at least one courtyard, which is placed strategically in the house, near the kitchen for instance, where ventilation is most needed.

The cluster of four Village Homes share a fore court, which keeps your driveway always cheery, doing away with dungeon-like darkness and keeping in line with open spaces.

In case you want a little privacy, bedroom windows have screens. Even pretty trees and hedges have been scattered around low windows to ward off inquisitive children from peeping in while not compromising on light and ventilation.

“These shrubs, which are part of the plant system in the development, help demarcate boundaries for the units,” says Koh.

The roofs of each home have been sprinkled with stone chippers to keep the roof cool and break down the heat.

“When the weather becomes hot then cold, concrete is bound to crack. But these stones keep the temperature of the roof consistent. If leaves get blown in, the stones will hold the leaves and there’s no blockage at traps like in typical scenarios.”

For the record, stone chippers are environmentally friendly unlike pretty pond stones which are needed by fish to breed. In fact, most materials used in this development are recyclable or environmentally friendly.

Wood is used minimally and marble only in limited areas.

Even in the canal, shallow safety benches have been constructed so that if a child falls into the canal all he’ll suffer is a bruised ego and a telling off from his parents for his muddy clothes.

At the heart of it all is the club house, a proud creation inspired by the Four Seasons Hotel in Sayan, Bali. Ventilation shafts have been fitted in the back of the clubhouse to bring in the cool air and push out hot air. An amoeba-shaped pool fronts the clubhouse and there’s a steam pool in the middle. As you climb to the roof of the clubhouse, a roof pool beckons with koi fish (for goodwill) swimming inside.

“The roof pool works to insulate the whole area and conserve energy besides creating the ‘wow’ effect. It is also used to collect rainwater which is channelled off to water plants and for other uses,” says Yong.

A testament of hard work

Competitors have noticed Pinggiran Bayou’s success and are now tapping their consultants and contractors.

“It’s also an assured investment, especially when you look at the location and the surrounding developments taking place,” says Koh. “The FIABCI award shows that we’re going in the right direction,” he adds.

“We stuck very closely to the concept,” Yong sums up. “ This award is a recognition of our hard work.”


KNOWN as an award-winning developer, Mulpha has won many accolades over the years. A market leader in Johor, they continue to inspire with their new ideas and high standards. Pinggiran Bayou Village, their latest win, was CONQUAS ( Singapore’s Construction Quality Assessment System) assessed, a testament of its high quality construction work.

Malaysia Property Award 2007 for Residential (Low Rise) Category

Pinggiran Bayou Village

2007 ILAM Design Award

Kayu Manis Orchard Leisure Farm Resort

2005 FIABCI Prix d’ Excellence – Finalist

Bale Equestrian & Country Club

2005 PAM Architecture Steel Award

Innovative use of steel in architecture

2003 Architecture Award – South Chapter

Show Unit Pinggiran Bayou Courtyard Homes

Salvaged art

By The Star

OLD is gold. Given a twist, it can take on a whole new life as in the case of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac).

What was formerly an old, rundown engineering workshop used by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd had been turned into a space for performing arts.

The old is married with the new; the transformation is simply stunning.

Every cloud has a silver lining

The flash flood on June 10, 2003 destroyed The Actors Studio complex in Plaza Putra below Dataran Merdeka and left the founders, Datuk Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham, scouting for another location.

Fusion of old and new: The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre.
They soon heard about the site in Sentul. After seeing the place, they knew that it was perfect and wrote to YTL Corp Bhd managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh. Later, they met and presented their plan for a performing arts venue in the city.

Yeoh, who has a passion for arts, shared the couple's vision and told them to “go for it”.

KLPac’s founding partners were Yayasan Budi Penyayang, YTL Corp and The Actors Studio.

Building KLPac

The concept was a creative adaptation of the old and original to one that transcended history and culture.

In order to keep as much of the original structure intact, brick walls of the workshop was preserved. Then, a modern, four-storey steel and glass structure that provides functional and aesthetic spaces was incorporated into the old structure.

In fact, some materials of the former workshop unearthed on site were retained as part of the theatre design, said KLPac theatre manager Teoh Ming Jin.

The brick facade of the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd engineering workshop.
“We wanted a raw finish to the building, which is true to its form. The cracks on the floor, for example, added to the authenticity of KLPac,” he explained.

The pre-mix flooring was unconventional. Heavy-duty tarmac was used for indoor use and required no maintenance.

In Pentas 1, a strap of old zinc roof ran around the wall above the stage. The side walls bore timber blocks in various sizes and PVC pipes were used to enhance acoustics and add to the aesthetics of the theatre space.

By reusing buildings and natural materials, the embodied energy was retained, making the project much more environmentally sustainable than entirely new constructions. The old trees and vegetation that matured with the old building was retained and preserved. Lighting, sound and rigging were designed with practicality, user-friendliness and quality in mind.

Teoh said KLPac reflected an innovative use of building materials within a very tight budget and timeframe.

“The entire project cost RM30mil and was completed in 15 months (plan, design, construct and build),” he said, adding that the 11-month construction period was considered extremely quick.

In comparison, Istana Budaya, which had almost the same capability, cost approximately RM250mil.

Decision making between teams also contributed to the success of KLPac, said Teoh. It involved theatre people designing for theatre people, besides architects and contractors.

Teoh said: “We knew exactly what we wanted, the vision was there and we stuck to it.”

A showcase of adaptive reuse

Besides being honoured by FIABCI Malaysia in the Malaysia Property Award 2007 in the Special Award for National Contribution category, KLPac had won the Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia award in 2006 for the adaptive re-use category for its creative blending of old and new architecture.

Adaptive reuse is a process that changes a disused or ineffective item into a new item to serve a different purpose. Sometimes, nothing changes but the item’s use.

Successful built adaptive reuse projects are those that best respect and retain the building’s significance and add a contemporary layer that provides value for the future.

Not only are performances held in KLPac, it also hosts other events such as product launches and dance events.

“A whole lot of new people are coming to use the space, “ Teoh said.

Raising industry standards

By The Star

SP SETIA Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin sees the company taking a leadership position to set new industry benchmarks to further raise the standards of industry players.

According to Liew, the company constantly challenges the standards to stand out from the competition.

“From organising annual mega carnivals and international star-studded concerts to providing a-class-above quality and service standards, we are unwavering in our commitment towards excellence and delivering unrivalled value to our customers,” Liew said.

SP Setia’s Setia Eco Park, with its landscaped waterways and lush greenery, won the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Award 2007 for Best Masterplan Development.

He said that with the growing competitiveness, developers who deliver outstanding properties would capture the bulk of the market whilst those who continue to churn out shoddily-finished products would eventually be phased out.

“Today, local players not only need to compete with home-grown names but also have to face intense pressure from foreign developers who are already flooding the local market.

“I believe this development should be welcomed as local house buyers will see positive benefits as far as the quality and specifications of residential properties are concerned, because foreigners – used to the high-quality finishes of famous real estate destinations such as Hong Kong, Singapore and London – will not tolerate sub-standard finishing,” Liew said.

He said one of the most significant coups for SP Setia was the successful development of Setia Alam and Setia Eco Park in Shah Alam, which turned out to be trendsetters in the lifestyle market.

When SP Setia first bought nearly 4,000 acres of land in Shah Alam in 2002 to develop the two projects, it was met with scepticism from the market.

Armed with a solid plan and the right strategies, the company’s persistence is now paying off.

“We were confident as we had a solid plan to make it work,” Liew said.

After carving out some 2,500 acres to be developed into Setia Alam – a self-contained integrated township, and nearly 800 acres for the country’s first eco-themed enclave – Setia Eco Park in a partnership with the Employees Provident Fund and Great Eastern, the balance of the land was sold to Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor.

“These well-strategised manoeuvres effectively lowered our holding costs and put us on a strong footing to turn our ambitious plans for Setia Alam and Setia Eco Park into reality.

“It is most gratifying to note that these two flagship projects have earned the approval of homebuyers and are the frontrunner in the lifestyle-driven market today,” he noted.

A philanthropist who believes in giving back to the society, Liew also encourages his staff to be actively involved in community and social work through the company’s SP Setia Foundation.

Since its formation in 2000, the foundation has raised RM35mil to support various needy and deserving individuals as well as non-governmental organisations, schools and medical establishments.

The core project of the SP Setia Foundation is the Setia Adoption Programme that funds the educational needs of needy children from across the country. Each year, more than RM2mil is spent on running the programme and 2,300 students are benefiting from the project.

Through the company’s efforts, Liew hopes to dispel the myth that all property developers are purely self-interested and seek to profit at the expense of house buyers.

Urban beauty

By The Star

BENETON Properties’ “property development as art” philosophy and commitment to designing the urban skyline has not gone unnoticed – its luxurious Stonor Park development is named Best Residential High Rise Building by Fiabci Malaysia at the Malaysia Property Award 2007.

The 20-storey, 73-unit, high-end, high-rise residence is said to have sparked the up-market property construction boom in the KLCC area.

When Beneton Properties’ management team first tabled the concept of a spacious, inner-city development on par with those found in cosmopolitan cities around the world, the naysayers came out in force.

The industry perception was that people who are used to bungalow living would not invest in a city centre high-rise condominium – no matter how well appointed.

However, Beneton Properties’ study of Kuala Lumpur’s top-end property market and the corresponding changing lifestyles of the elites showed a clear need and corresponding lack of supply of city-centre homes.

Supported by the logic of supply-and-demand economics and a profound understanding of high-end market preferences, the company persisted in the course of its vision.

Stonor Park is the fruition of that shared vision.

Besides Stonor Park’s prime location – a mere five minutes’ walk from the iconic Petronas Twin Towers – the company’s visionary approach to the development made the all-important difference.

Eschewing the ornamented designs of older projects, the company emphasised on refined contemporary designs to create a spaciousness that would make occupants accustomed to large, landed properties feel at home and have a sense of privacy and security set amidst luxurious finishes.

Stonor Park sparked the up-market property construction boom in the KLCC area.
Stonor Park was the first condominium project in Malaysia to introduce the concept of just two units per floor, paired with a private lift serving each unit.

According to Chan Kin-Meng, Beneton Properties’ Director – Projects & Business Development, the crux of all discussions surrounding the time when Stonor Park was conceived was, “Would I want to live here?”

“This makes the conferment of FIABCI’s Best Residential High Rise Building for 2007 Award to Stonor Park meaningful on a personal level to everyone in our team. FIABCI award winners are selected after careful study by a panel of respected industry experts – and it’s an honour to win,” Chan said.

The attention to detail includes “intangibles” like lighting and acoustics.

Units are well insulated against sound, while the interiors are carefully designed to dampen the hollow echoing common in large spaces.

Exterior spaces are lit to highlight form and create mood through the clever use of light and shadow, while practical lighting serves in both form and function in the development’s high-security car park.

The piece de resistance must surely be its breathtaking, panoramic view of the city centre.

“For many Stonor Park residents, the view alone suffices. Five minutes from the Twin Towers, and the serenity is amazing. You are living within the city, yet apart from the hustle and bustle,” Chan said.

The exclusivity of Stonor Park, its excellent management services, privacy and security, make it an absolute jewel in the crown of urban and urbane Kuala Lumpur living.

Its position and standing as the first in the new wave of up-market condominium projects sweeping the city gives it further cachet. Owners are pleased with the capital appreciation of the units, bought before the circa RM1,500 per sq ft price became the norm.

SP Setia’s CEO the new Property Man of the Year

By The Star

: SP Setia Bhd Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin was named the new Property Man of the Year in the 15th FIABCI Malaysia Property Award held at One World Hotel yesterday.

The event was graced by the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

A total of nine awards were given out at the annual event dubbed the “Oscars” of the property industry.

Top award: Liew thanking Sultan Sharafuddin for presenting the award to him Saturday.

The other awards and winners were:

  • MASTER Plan Category – Sentul West and Sentul East Master Plan by YTL Land and Development Bhd;

  • RESIDENTIAL Development (high rise) – Stonor Park by Beneton Properties Sdn Bhd;

  • RESIDENTIAL Development (low rise) – Pinggiran Bayou Village by Leisure Farm Corp Sdn Bhd;

  • RESORT Development – Genting Highlands Resort by Resorts World Bhd;

  • RETAIL Development – KB Mall by YS Tang Holdings Sdn Bhd;

  • SPECIALISED Project – Sultan Abdul Aziz Royal Gallery by Laurent Lim Architect;

  • SPECIALISED Project – Persada Johor International Convention Centre by Persada Johor International Convention Centre; and

  • SPECIAL Award for National Contribution – The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre by YTL Corp Bhd.

    Resorts World bagged the Best Resort award.

    A minute of silence was observed for the passing of Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, founder of the Genting Group. Resorts World is part of the group.