Property

Rising in the South: Taipei's The Master Collection



Taipei is one of Asia’s great cities: urban and urbane, yet surprisingly warm and welcoming for a sprawling metropolitan area of nearly seven million. And, as the economy grows and services take over, it is slowly creating space for high-end, design-forward residences. 

To that end, Phoenix Property Investors, National Properties and Fubon Land have teamed up to create The Master Collection, 28 premium houses designed by some of the world’s most renowned and awarded architects. Hong Kong and Singapore need to watch their backs. 

 New Taipei, New Design

Nestled in the heart of Taipei’s Great Taipei New Town, between Xueshan and Yangmingshan and not far from the relaxing leisure areas of Wulai Hot Springs and Bitan, The Master Collection is divided into the Olson Houses and PREMIA, and will be like nothing that has launched in Taipei before. 

Noted for the innovative designs and international pedigree, The Master Collection may be a familiar sight in Hong Kong – or London or Sydney – but it is relatively new in Taipei, which can now be officially added to that list. 

“Taipei is a popular travel destination that is gaining traction for its distinctive blend of heritage, culture and lifestyle. Taiwan overtook Canada this year to become the third most popular country for Hong Kong citizens who are looking to emigrate,” says Phoenix Property Investors’ founding partner Samuel Chu. 

“Compared to Hong Kong, Taipei’s cost of living, pollution levels and population density are much lower. When you also consider climate and infrastructure, investors are becoming receptive to the idea of investing in Taipei.” 

The Master Collection’s location in the prestigious Great Taipei New Town district adds to the project’s appeal. Leafy, natural and with quick and easy access to the downtown core, and home to one of the city’s most prestigious international schools, “the exclusive site was the ideal choice for establishing freehold properties in a picturesque environment”, Chu says of Phoenix’s decision to develop there again. 

Taipei is not yet a mature investment location along the lines of other Asian hotspots, and it has faced affordability issues among other challenges in recent months, but its increasing ties to Mainland China and diversifying economy are putting the capital on the radar. 

“Taipei is an emerging market for foreign direct investment, and it is particularly popular for the high quality of living, and relatively slower pace (compared to Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo),” he says.

“We also believe Taipei’s unique culture and established infrastructure makes it a viable candidate in the up-and-coming category for property investment.” 

He is confident The Master Collection will go a long way to underpinning that image, and that it will stand apart from other luxury residences in the region, likening the homes to a work of art: a collectible. 

And despite a sluggish economy, the demand for “starchitect” work – such as Xinyi Tower – in Taipei is on the rise. 

“These projects reinforce the fact there is an underlying demand for exclusive design projects in the market.”




 Homes of Distinction 

But it is the design pedigree that is drawing all the attention this time around. The Master Collection brings together five architecture, well, masters, including Pritzker Prize-winner Richard Meier of Richard Meier & Partners; Jim Olson, a founding principal at Seattle’s Olson Kundig and the mastermind behind 19 Shek O Road; and the New York-based triumvirate of German-born founder of Selldorf Architects, Annabelle Selldorf; Steven Harris at Steven Harris Architects; and Tsao & McKown’s Calvin Tsao. 

The 28 homes will range in size from just over 6,300 square feet up to nearly 14,000 square feet, and feature gardens and private pools as just some of the amenities. For Chu, the choices were relatively simple. 

“We knew we were proposing to design and build in an area of exceptional beauty, with an outlook and view from each house which is truly unprecedented. 

“Any houses built in such a location had to be worthy of their settings; they had to seamlessly balance the requirements of exclusivity, luxury, privacy and security for potential buyers. 

“In short, we wanted creative partners who had already proved they could conceive contemporary masterpieces.” 

Keeping track of trends in architecture and the industry’s best and brightest was par for the course, but Phoenix was looking for craftspeople with distinct ideas, an understanding of the kind of buyer the Collection would attract, and the ability to see the potential in the Great Taipei New Town district. 

That “helped to inspire designs that reflect and accentuate the original qualities of a wonderful location”, says Chu, adding: “Interestingly, it was after we had chosen the five architects and they had delivered their extraordinary designs, that all five were included in Architectural Digest’s 2016 prestigious list of the world’s top 100 design thought leaders and influencers.” 

Olson’s five homes will integrate seamlessly with the landscape; Meier’s will be marked by striking geometry; Selldorf’s will reflect her signature glass tower aesthetics; Harris’ eight hill-hugging villas will exploit natural light; and Tsao’s classic, irregularly stacked homes, will offer some of the best views. 

Though Chu and Phoenix are hoping for (and will likely get) a sell-out, there’s a bigger picture at play: good architecture for quality living in beautiful spaces. 

“Ultimately, we hope to inspire other future luxury property developments and provide more options in the market,” he finishes. 

“This will also set a new benchmark for house living, as well as reinforce our corporate social responsibility and make a positive impact on the community.”

The residences of The Master Collection are priced starting at HK$40 million, or just over HK$6,200 per square foot. The Jim Olson houses will be finished later this year, with the PREMIA homes completed in late 2018.