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Rise of Mixed-Use Development

With increasing urbanisation, mixed-use developments are gaining popularity in Asia. As they bring together residential, office and retail spaces in a single development, they reduce the need for unnecessary travelling, a boon for busy urbanites as well as the environment.

In Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is encouraging the live-work-play environment with the sale of white sites, which by definition provide developers the flexibility to decide on the use of the sites and how much floor space they like to allot to each use, just as long as they adhere to the total permissible gross floor area (GFA) for the whole development. This enables developers to respond better to the market, ensuring a better match between supply and demand.

Since the start of the decade over 15 such sites have been sold to developers in Singapore. Most are located within the city centre but they are also found in regional centres and other major commercial nodes to bring jobs and amenities closer to where people live.

Notable examples are Marina Bay Financial Centre, which comprises three towers of Grade A office space, two residential towers and retail space; Tanjong Pagar Centre, which sits above the Tanjong Pagar MRT station; and DUO at the Bugis MRT. Away from the city centre, there are the Watertown, sited above the Waterway Point mall, and Bedok Residences, integrated with Bedok Mall.

Under One Roof
Guocoland is developing Tanjong Pagar Centre. At 290 metres, it will be Singapore's tallest building when completed and will comprise a residential component named Clermont Residence, a 38-storey office building Guoco Tower, a 202-room luxury business hotel Clermont Singapore and 100,000-sqare feet of retail space.

By siting residential, office and retail components in a single development, Cheng Hsing Yao, Chief Operating Officer of GuocoLand (Singapore), said it would reduce the need to travel, as people would live nearer where they work, shop or find recreation. And with other amenities also nearby, people will rely more on public transport networks that are the hallmark of well-planned cities.

Beyond the urban planning benefits, mixed-use developments also offer design flexibility. At Tanjong Pagar Centre, Guocoland is stacking the residential component on top of the office. The outcome is that the lowest residential floor is 180 metres above ground, equivalent to a 50-storey residential block. With the larger office footprint, there is room to build a garden space for residents.

With a GFA of 1.73 million square feet, DUO will be the largest integrated development in the Bugis and City Hall area. Developed by M+S, a 40:60 joint venture formed by Temasek Holdings and its Malaysian counterpart Khazanah Nasional, it comprises a 49-storey residential block, a 39-storey commercial tower with a retail gallery and about 500,000 square feet of office space, and a five-star hotel.

M+S is also developing Marina One. Covering a total GFA of 3.67 million square feet, it will feature two 30-storey office towers and a retail podium, and two 34-storey residential blocks.

Raffles City is a fine example of a successful mixed-use development. Completed in the mid-1980s, it comprises an office tower, two hotels (Swissotel The Stamford and The Fairmont Singapore) and a retail mall. Even with the influx of newer office developments in the CBD, Raffles City Tower has maintained high occupancy rates.

Crown Jewel
At Changi Airport, Singapore is giving a new spin to the concept of mixed-use development. On a 3.5-hectare site where the former open-air carpark at Terminal 1 (T1) once stood, work has begun on a glass-and-steel complex which will house shops, a hotel , facilities for airport and a greenhouse with thousands of trees, plants, ferns and shrubs.

Jointly developed by Changi Airport Group (CAG) and CapitaMalls Asia at a cost of S$1.7 billion, the Jewel will reinvent what airports are all about by creating a shared public space under a glass dome with a massive waterfall and garden at its centre. Seamlessly integrated with T1, it is designed by Moshe Safdie, who also conceptualised the highly recognisable Marina Bay Sands.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony in December 2014, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said, "(Jewel) will raise Changi Airport's appeal as a stopover hub and help Singapore capture a larger mindshare of the travelling public. Passengers will enjoy a better experience. Jewel will also be another interesting destination for Singaporeans to enjoy with our family and friends. With its beautiful garden and lush greenery, Jewel will be an extension of our Garden City at the airport."

It could have turned out rather differently, as Lee Seow Hiang, CEO of CAG and chairman of Jewel Changi Airport Trustee, told the press: "We could have just extended T1 and built a multi-storey car park on this site. But we felt that it had far greater potential. "Its central location in the middle of the three terminals provides a strategic spot which we could leverage to hub the three terminals together."

When completed in 2018, Jewel will be a salve for the tired traveller, a destination of choice for Singaporeans and a showcase of Singapore to the rest of the world.

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