Tag Archives: London

Upcoming luxury property in London: No.1 Palace Street apartments promise grand accommodations in the city, beside Buckingham Palace

Located in the heart of St. James Park, the new development called No.1 Palace Street, not only has Queen Elizabeth right next door but also has a view of the Buckingham Palace gardens. This prime location stands as the only one at the famous zip code to share such a close relationship to Europe’s longest reigning monarch. With completion set for 2019, the site that will house the luxury property is expected to span 300,000 square feet.

If having a distinguished neighbour doesn’t make this a prime real estate option, then maybe its rich history is something that catches your attention. No.1 Palace Street has a wing that was once part of ‘The Palace Hotel’ built in 1861 during the Victorian period. The Grade II listed portion of the building has even hosted royalty such as Queen Victoria in the past. With architecture that is similar to that of Buckingham Palace, it is the perfect location for one to live like royalty.

Buckingham Gate Entrance

From one-bedroom accommodations to penthouse suites the developers aim to provide each of the 72 apartments with a unique layout. Under the expert care of the developers interior design division, N Studio, the interiors are set to marry contemporary designs with traditional architecture. While your personal living space is a haven that you treasure, No.1 Palace Street also promises to provide over 10,000 square feet of lifestyle facilities as well as 6,500 square feet that allow residents to pamper themselves. With an expansive gym, personal training suites, treatment rooms and a private pool that is touted to be one of the most impressive that the British capital has to offer.

“No.1 Palace Street is an exceptional proposition in an unrivalled location, and will tempt the most discerning of buyers” said Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro, CEO of Northacre. He added, “Northacre has built more luxury homes than any other developer in London and this development will cement Northacre’s position as an industry leader and set a new standard for what buyers demand from a home.”

Kensington Gardens, London hosts Serpentine Pavillion 2017 designed by architect Diébédo Francis Kéré

Architect Diébédo Francis Kéré

African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been chosen to design the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion located in London’s Kensington Gardens. The Burkina Faso-born architect is the 17th architect to take on the task of designing a temporary structure on the grounds of the Serpentine Galleries. Inspired by a tree that serves as a central meeting point in his hometown of Gand, Kéré aims to connect visitors to nature and provide a space for community bonding. Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion will be open from June 23 to October 8.

The design is marked by an expansive wooden roof that mimics a tree canopy and is supported by a central intricate steel framework. Enclosed by several curving blue walls as well as wooden blocks in a tessellated pattern, the design is reminiscent of textiles worn by young men from Kéré’s village. The roof, while providing shelter from rain, allows airs to circulate freely, providing shade on sunnier afternoons.

 Kéré makes the British climate a central element of his design, with a structure that engages with London’s ever-changing weather. An open air courtyard in the center invites visitors to sit on sunny days; when rain strikes, an oculus funnels water that collects on the roof to create a waterfall effects. The roof and the wall system are made from wood and create dappled shadows by day, while by night the structure is illuminated as small perforations light up with the activity inside the pavilion.

“In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality. For this reason, I was interested in how my contribution to this Royal Park could not only enhance the visitor’s experience of nature but also provoke a new way for people to connect with each other,” said Kéré.

Kéré follows on from Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in designing the pavilion. BIG’s “unzipped wall” structure was visited by more than 250,000 people last year. In the new pavilion, the Serpentine will continue its public performance series, Park Nights, as well as hosting a program of events focusing on questions of community and rights to the city, inspired by Kéré’s commitment to socially engaged and ecological design.

Since 2000, Serpentine Galleries have been commissioning architects to create its pavilion each year, providing a chance for these usually international architects to create their first structure in England.

For more information, visit Serpentine Galleries.

Real estate in Great Britain: Is crowdfunding the new way to privately finance Britain’s property market?

A skyscraper in Bogota, Colombia; a 95-unit condo development in Manhattan, New York; and funding to get Olympians from the training field in their home towns across to the splendour of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The scope for crowdfunding is just about as broad as the modern economic marketplace itself, and the sectors that are benefitting from this financial innovation are just as wide- ranging. For my own account, I have contributed funds to the crowdfunding campaign of a private school in the British Midlands, and a scheme of new apartments in the city of Manchester, just to cite a couple, though I could just have easily invested into a restaurant business, a penthouse in London, or even a secondary loan provider. This diversity and flexibility is unquestionably a leading factor in the surge that this sector has enjoyed in recent years.

It should be recognised that crowdfunding is a two-way social interaction, and as the sector has become increasingly mainstream, it’s not just the recipients of the crowd’s funds that are benefitting. The individuals and businesses that place money into crowdfunded loans and investments are enjoying an ever- greater choice of, and control over, their personal portfolio investments. This ease in the ability to diversify across sectors, locations and investment amounts, means almost anybody can gain access to investments that suit their personal goals and risk appetite.

Hand in hand with this degree of choice and diversity is the varying level of returns on offer. In the UK there are crowdfunded and P2P (peer-to-peer loans to individuals and businesses) investments at almost all points along the risk spectrum, whether into low- risk property and business investments that can pay as little as three or four percent, or for those looking for higher returns there are property developers and trading businesses that raise money from crowdfunders at expected returns of 10%+ on a debt (loan) basis, or potentially even better (or worse, if the business doesn’t succeed) when investing to buy equity in a crowdfunded business.

To understand the ways in which investors and borrowers benefit from the crowdfunding sector, it might help to be clear on just how the system works. In simple terms there needs to be an intermediary, someone to aggregate the money from the masses of contributors (the ‘crowd’), and to effectively manage these funds, so a borrower can receive the money for the right reason and at the right time. These intermediaries are the crowdfunding and P2P companies, or ‘platforms’. This service of organisation and management is what crowdfunding platforms provide the marketplace with, where we could draw a loose comparison with the services of an investment company or a broker, with a key difference being that an investment company might offer an advised service to manage your funds, whereas in the case of crowdfunding the control and decision-making sits directly with the investor.

The transaction volumes in the crowdfunding and alternative finance (AltFi) space have experienced nothing short of a colossal rise over the past 3 years, and the sector has enjoyed an increasing position of prominence in the markets, including in the UK property market. As a year-on-year comparison of market share growth, April 2015 saw banks lend upwards of GBP 30 billion (approx. USD 38.2 billion) to SMEs in the UK, whilst in the same month of 2016 this had dropped to GBP 16 billion (approx. USD 20.3 billion). Whilst not all of this gap in funding was picked up by the crowdfunding sector, it was the alternative finance space in general that benefitted from the banks’ loss of market share. More specifically in relation to crowdfunding UK property, it was reported that last year alone, investors contributed GBP 609 million (approx. USD 775.7 million) to property investments in the UK.

As the broader property sector in the UK has remained robust, even in the current Brexit-era, other platform providers have told me that the pipeline of properties being funded continues as strongly as ever. As a model of funding that is increasingly being recognised as a perfectly acceptable way of funding developments, investors and property developers alike are on track to cross the line at GBP 1 billion (approx. USD 1.36 billion) annually in the not-too- distant future.

We have already noted the terms ‘crowdfunding’ and ‘P2P’, so it might help to define what these are, and how they differ. In simple terms, crowdfunding has increasingly become the default term for equity investing, where the money you contribute to a ‘campaign’ will buy you a stake or shareholding in the company behind the campaign. Alongside this is P2P, which is the debt-based equivalent, and allows a member of the crowd to loan funds alongside other crowd investors. P2P generally provides a fixed return on the funds loaned, and whether you contribute as debt or equity, pretty much every type of business can be funded under either model. Though this might suggest there are just two versions of crowdfunding, I’d be quick to point out that the variations between the models used by each platform are notable. Structured and hybrid offerings through to being sector specific gives both investors and fund- raisers ever increasing options for engaging financially.

So, where will it go from here? With the returns on offer from banks remaining paltry, and the yields on gilts and prime rental property being squeezed to a point of barely matching inflation, it appears to be a bright horizon for a sector where we provide solutions to those needing to borrow funds, and diversity, choice and highly competitive returns to those looking to generate an above average return on their money.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine 17

Luxury property in London, United Kingdom: A luxurious home at One Kensington Gardens next to dignitaries and royalty

Home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, illustrious foreign dignitaries and a selection of the world’s ultra-wealthy and famous, there’s truly no other neighbourhood quite like the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Fancy calling yourself a neighbour? One Kensington Gardens, a new residential development by De Vere Estates, offers a collection of 97 luxury apartments for the discerning homeowner in search of privacy and exclusivity with a touch of pedigree.

Designed by renowned architect Sir. David Chipperfield, with elegant interiors crafted by Karen Howes of London-based interior design firm Taylor Howes, the development is located on Kensington Road, and is opposite Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, one of the capital’s eight Royal Parks. Close proximity to the shopping and transport facilities of Kensington High Street and Knightsbridge also enhances the property’s ideal lifestyle element of fusing tranquillity with the sophistication and glamour of city living.

From studios to one to six bedroom apartments and a penthouse, the development provides residents with a 24 hr dedicated concierge service, valet parking, a private health spa, fitness centre, and a 25 m indoor swimming pool. All apartments come equipped with under-floor heating and comfort cooling, and are constructed with the maximisation of light and space in mind, providing an elegant yet welcoming home experience.

This article was first published in Palace 18. 

Luxury residence in London: Oceanic House presents 6 apartments and a 2 story penthouse for purchasing

The neoclassical façade of the Grade II listed Oceanic House conceals a storied piece of British history, a turn-of-the- century memory of mankind’s transatlantic travel ambitions that is sure to inspire attention today. Originally the London headquarters of the famous White Star Line, the company behind the RMS Titanic and Olympic Ocean liners, the building has been transformed into a luxury residence containing six spacious apartments and a two-storey penthouse occupying the top two floors. Units range from 1,679 sq. ft. to 5,447 sq. ft. in size and feature bespoke interiors by BLDA, reminiscent of the glamour of early 20th century ocean travel, Poggenpohl fitted kitchens, under-floor heating, comfort cooling, and en-suite bedrooms. Residents can also benefit from round-the-clock security.

The building’s sumptuously renovated ground floor was once the company’s First Class booking office, playing host to eminent Titanic passengers such as the Countess of Rothes, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon. With high- ceilings and an Edwardian-inspired interior, the entrance hall provides a reception area for guests, a dedicated 24 hr concierge, and a refurbished foyer featuring a scale model of the luxurious Titanic liner on display.

Commissioned by White Star Line Chairman Joseph Bruce Ismay, the descendent of a sailing and shipbuilding dynasty, and designed by architect Henry Tanner Junior, Oceanic House was completed in 1907 and sits in the heart of London ’s West End at 1 Cockspur Street, adjacent to the ritzy Mayfair and Belgravia districts. The surrounding Trafalgar Square area also accommodates some of the capital’s finest hotels such as The Savoy, Corinthia, and The Waldorf Hilton. Though the building was later converted into offices for Barclays Bank, the Ministry of Defence, and then the Texas Embassy, a promotional centre for the State of Texas, its prestigious White Star Line origins are definitely not to be forgotten with the residences serving as a fitting homage to its rich history. Scheduled for completion in Spring 2017, the development is helmed by Misland Capital and Oceanic Developments Ltd.

This article was first published in Palace 18.

Luxury hotels in London: The Hyatt Regency London—The Churchill captures Sir Winston Churchill’s persona and style

Sir Winston Churchill was one of Britain’s most — if not the most — revered political heroes of the 19th century. Located in the heart of London’s West End, the Hyatt Regency London — The Churchill looks over the city much like its namesake did before. As a man known best for not only his grit and ingenuity but also his classic British sartorial style, The Hyatt Regency London — The Churchill brings to life a tribute to this esteemed figure.

With the help of the Churchill family, the hotel recently reopened after a multi-million-pound refurbishment that saw an addition of six new guestrooms, suites and meeting spaces. Influenced by the art deco style of the 1930s, while Churchill was in office, the hotel pays homage to its namesake with smoky grey hues and sensual rich velvet, coupled with leather upholstery.

Original artworks and designs such as touches of herringbone and button detailing reflect Churchill’s love for sophistication. Churchill’s close relationship with his wife Clementine is also shown through the many photographs and love letters throughout the hotel.

Aside from those furnishings, the hotel also boasts the Churchill Bar & Terrace. Internationally acclaimed design firm Spinocchia Freud designed the bar. Elegant mahogany bookshelves line its walls, featuring a range of classics and literature that the Churchills enjoyed. The clearest tribute to Churchill however, is most definitely the sculpture of him that sits on the bar’s alfresco terrace, with staff placing a fresh rose in the lapel every morning just as Clementine did.

The five-star property houses 110 rooms and 11 signature suites, featuring triple Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s first London restaurant La Dame de Pic. The refurbishment also includes a new suite package in partnership with luxury department store Selfridges.

Architecture in London: Greenwich Peninsula to house the cultural hub called Peninsula Place

Famous for his ‘neo-futurist’ projects, Architect Santiago Calatrava will be behind London’s new landmark building, to be constructed on the Greenwich Peninsula. This project is part of 25-year regeneration project that aims to create 15,000 new homes on former gas works and agricultural land in south-east London. Dubbed Peninsula Place, the £1 billion glass building will boast some of the finest facilities including a tube and bus station, entertainment venues, bars, stores and a “well-being hub.”

Located in a neighborhood next to the O2 arena, the 1.4-million-square-foot complex will welcome visitors and residents in an 80-foot-high winter garden and glass galleria, topped by three towers of workspace, apartments and hotels. In the winter garden, an urban forest will sit beneath a glass cupola, providing natural light, while the towers will feature a stepped design that will reveal a series of green terraces.

In the 500-foot-long galleria, slim columns will create the effect of a tree-lined avenue and form a vaulting arcade above a promenade of cafes, shops and restaurants. A land bridge, featuring a mast and cables that create a giant sundial, will connect the Peninsula to a public park on the River Thames.

The building — for which a timeline has yet to be revealed — is part of a transformation of the Peninsula that is planned over several years in seven new neighborhoods surrounded by the Thames; In addition to providing more than 15,000 new residences, these areas will be home to the first major film studio in central London, a new design district and public spaces.

Peninsula Place is the first UK building by Calatrava, whose firm was behind projects including the 2004 Athens Olympic Sports Complex and 2016 World Trade Center Transportation hub in New York.

Hotels opening in 2017: Check into these new accommodations in Paris, Bora Bora and more for your upcoming holidays

Arthur Streeton, 'Circular Quay,' 1892 at 'Australia's Impressionists' © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Art Exhibitions in 2017: 4 museums Revisiting Major Art Movements in New York and London

Taking a break from the contemporary world, sometimes it is necessary to trace the roots of the modern artworks we know and love, going back to its historical references. With that in mind, refresh your knowledge of some of history’s major art movements in 2017 with these four exhibitions.

“A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde” – December 3, 2016, to March 12, 2017, at MoMA, New York, USA

MoMA is retracing the rise of the Russian avant-garde movement, from the First World War to the end of the first five-year plan of the USSR (the inter-war period). Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it presents the movement’s first experimental projects (paintings, drawings, sculptures, etchings, books, films, etc.)

“Surrealism in Egypt: Art and Liberty 1938-1948” – November 17, 2017, to March 11, 2018, at Tate Liverpool, UK

This is the first comprehensive museum exhibition about the Art and Liberty Group (Art et Liberté -jama’at al-fann wa al-hurriyyah). This collective of politically engaged artists and writers with surrealist leanings lived and worked in Cairo in the late 1930s until the late 1940s. “Surrealism in Egypt: Art and Liberty 1938-1948” shows how the movement, usually associated with European artists, transcended borders, notably thanks to travel and correspondence with artists such as André Breton and Lee Miller.

“Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites” – October 4, 2017, to April 2, 2018, at The National Gallery, London, UK
'The Arnolfini Portrait', 1434, Jan van Eyck at 'Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites' © National Gallery, London

‘The Arnolfini Portrait’, 1434, Jan van Eyck at ‘Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites’
© National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is focusing on the painting “Arnolfini Portrait” by Van Eyck, exploring how the work became a beacon by which Pre-Raphaelites forged a new style of painting. The exhibition brings together “Arnolfini Portrait” and other paintings for the first time, highlighting the piece’s influence on the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and William Holman Hunt (1827-1910).

“Australia’s Impressionists” – December 7, 2016, to March 26, 2017, at The National Gallery, London, UK

“Australia’s Impressionists” is the UK’s first exhibition dedicated to the work of Australian impressionists. It presents the movement as a unique artistic current, certainly linked to its French and British counterparts, yet also entirely distinct.

london invest properties berkeley homes south quay plaza aerial view

Invest in London, UK: Brexit takes down housing prices, attracting international buyers

As a city that has long been one of the hubs of global finance and has made multiple appearances on the lists of top places to live for the ultra-high-net-worth individuals, London has certainly got its advantage when it comes to attracting international investors. With its relatively transparent legal system, security and access to top educational institutions, London has got that magnetism that has continued to attract investors in 2016. According to The Wealth Report 2016 by Knight Frank, a commercial and residential property consultancy, London has overtaken New York for the second consecutive year in a row as the leading city for the world’s wealthy, based on where they spend their time, grow their businesses and invest in real estate.

Although London’s property market has gone through peaks and troughs over the last 18 months, it continues to appeal to domestic and international buyers alike. Following the natural dip in housing prices after the EU Referendum and the weakening of the Sterling, the housing market in London has strengthened the value proposition for knowledgeable buyers, with a spike in enquiries from purchasers from Asian countries, including China and Singapore.

“London remains a safe haven for investment and a hub for the world’s high net worth individuals”, says Charlie Walsh, Director, Sales at Lodha UK. “Many buyers have identified that they need to act now to secure strong long-term growth”.

Advantageously located developments in prestigious districts of London continue to attract buyers from overseas who seek a great investment that can offer a home for generations to come. Lodha UK’s Lincoln Square is one of such developments, located in London’s historic and legal quarter between Covent Garden and the financial district of the Square Mile, next to some of London’s most prestigious educational institutions, theatres, restaurants and fashion boutiques.

Areas undergoing regeneration in London have also presented a great opportunity for investors, with prices continuing on an upward trajectory. London Docklands and Canary Wharf have been rapidly gaining investors’ interest with the development of new residential properties, restaurants, bars, concert venues and retail malls. The new high-speed rail link connecting West and East London – the Elizabeth Line – has been contributing to higher property values for homes along the route. With a scheduled 2018 opening, pricing around the Elizabeth Line, including areas like Canary Wharf, are expected to rise 7% over the next four years.

“It is a great time to buy in London, especially in areas that are undergoing change,” says Jacob Sullivan, Director of Sales & Marketing, Berkeley Homes South East London. “House prices in areas like London Docklands continue to experience growth compared to areas such as Kensington and Chelsea, where there has been a significant decrease in prices over the last year”.

 

On the market

Lincoln Square, Lodha UK

With its advantageous location in London’s historic and legal quarter, next to the world renowned institutions like the London School of Economics, as well as world class theatres and restaurants, Lincoln Square is an upcoming destination that will offer state-of-the-art facilities and exquisitely designed residences in the heart of the city. The development will offer elegant, warm, contemporary residences ranging from studios to four-bed apartments and two penthouses with interiors designed by Bowler James Brindley. The residents’ amenities, curated by Patricia Urquiola, will include a private club and a library, a cinema room, private dining room for up to 36 people, as well as snooker and games rooms, while the wellness facilities will feature a 25 metre swimming pool, a spa and a high-tech gymnasium.

Price: from GBP 900,000 (approx. USD 1.19 million) available on lincolnsquare.co.uk

 

Lincoln Square interior

Lincoln Square interior

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Lincoln Square entrance

South Quay Plaza, Berkeley Homes

Poised to become one of London’s tallest residential towers when completed, the mixed-used South Quay Plaza will feature a stepped tower structure built at a 45-degree rotation to maximise water views and a panoramic city skyline, offering a valuable proximity to the London City Airport and the upcoming Crossrail that will connect Heathrow to Canary Wharf in less than 40 minutes. With its structure and interior designed by Foster + Partners, the residential facilities and amenities will span 1,500 square metres, with the entire 56th floor being dedicated to the residents’ club lounge, featuring an expansive outdoor dining section, bar, screening room, library and conference room. Additionally, the Health Club will offer a magnificent 20 metre infinity pool overlooking the Thames and other wellness amenities including a thermal suite with hot pool, sauna, steam room, treatment room and relaxation lounge.

Price: from GBP 695,000 (approx. USD 922,000) available on southquayplaza.london

 

berkeley-homes-south-quay-plaza_terrace london nvestment properties

Berkeley Homes terrace

DBOX for Berkeley Group - SQP - london investment properties

Berkeley Homes interior

Text by Olha Romaniuk

This story was first published in Palace Magazine

 

Cezanne exhibition in Paris, France: See the artist's paintings on display at Musee d'Orsay

Cezanne exhibition in Paris, France: See the artist’s paintings on display at Musee d’Orsay

An exhibition, titled ‘Cézanne Portraits’ will feature over 50 of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne’s portraits at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Beginning on June 14 till September 24, the exhibition will move onto London‘s National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C

Regarded as one of the most prominent painters of the 19th century, Cézanne painted almost 200 portraits in his lifetime, with 36 self-portraits and 29 of his wife. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see artworks from museums and private collections from Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

‘Cézanne Portraits’ will be look back at the artist’s career from a chronological perspective, observing the shifts of his painting style and methods throughout the years, as well as his focus on complementary pairs and multiple versions of a subject.

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“Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair,” 1888-90, by Paul Cézanne © Wilson L. Mead Fund, 1948.54, The Art Institute of Chicago. “Cézanne Portraits” at NPG London

The works to be displayed will include paintings of Cézanne’s uncle Dominique from the 1860s, to portraits of Vallier, his assistant in Aix-en-Provence – one of his final works.

“Up until now, Cezanne’s portraiture has received surprisingly little attention, so we are thrilled to be able to bring together so many of his portraits for the first time to reveal arguably the most personal, and therefore most human, aspect of Cézanne’s art,” said Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

“Cézanne Portraits” is a collaboration between the three museums and will show at all three venues. It will be on display at the Musée d’Orsay from June 14 to September 24, 2017; the National Portrait Gallery in London from October 26, 2017 to February 11, 2018; and the National Gallery of Art from March 25 to July 1, 2018.

1 Undershaft Will Have London’s Highest View

1 Undershaft, designed by Eric Parry Architects, will be London’s second tallest building when construction is complete in 2020 and possibly the building with the most dubious name in the City; the tallest building in the UK is The Shard. The project was recently approved by the City of London.

Also known by the much nicer name ‘The Trellis’, 1 Undershaft will pierce the sky at 289.94 meters (approx. 951 feet), or 304.94 meters (1,000 feet) above sea level. For a little perspective, The Shard, is 309.6m (1,016 feet) in height.

The skyscraper will consist of 73 stories, mostly to be occupied by office space. A public square will be built at the base of the tower, along with a retail gallery for restaurants, cafes and shops.

At the very top, a viewing gallery will be open for the public, free of charge. This will actually be the UK’s highest.  The space will also have an education center for students to discover about London and its history.

“There could be no better place to observe how the fabric of London has changed over two millennia while thinking about what this means for the city of today and tomorrow,” said Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, which is working on the learning spaces at the top of the tower.

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An aerial view of 1 Undershaft by Eric Parry Architects © DBOX for Eric Parry Architects

Eric Parry is behind the St Martin-in-the-Fields project at London’s Trafalgar Square as well as 10 Fenchurch Avenue, an office development in the City of London.

The tower was commissioned by Singapore-based Aroland Holdings Limited, which is currently developing tall buildings in capital cities around the world.

While a timeframe has not been set, it is expected the building will open in the 2020s.

London Luxury Bargains: Brexit Effect

While the prospect of Brexit is weighing on much of the British economy, tourism and luxury goods businesses are cashing in on bargain-hungry visitors lured by the slide in the pound.

London’s tourism agency says sales of goods eligible for sales-tax exemption have gone up by a third since the Brexit vote in June, which sent the pound sterling plunging against the euro and dollar.

“We calculated that over the last four months it’s been about 12 percent cheaper for Europeans to come and shop here,” said Chris Gottlieb, head of leisure marketing at the agency London & Partners.

The pound is now at 1.17 euros compared with 1.3 euros before the shock vote to leave the European Union, while it has also fallen to $1.25 from $1.49.

The result is that London has become the cheapest city for luxury goods shopping in the world in dollar terms, according to a study by Deloitte.

Going to spend much more

In tourist areas, the effects are evident. “We’re going to spend much more money than we planned to,” said Radostina Nonova, a Bulgarian tourist, laughing as she lugged her bags on Carnaby Street – in the heart of London’s shopping district.

“We didn’t plan to shop too much but it’s obvious that the prices are very good for us. So we shop and we can afford to eat and drink outside. That was not possible years ago,” she said.

French tourist Christophe Disic said he did not come just because the pound was low but “when we changed our money we realized we had a few more pounds for fewer euros”.

When speaking to US tourists, shopkeepers are quick to take out their calculators.

“We’re an American brand. Our products are designed and assembled in the States. But with the weakening of the pound it actually happens to be cheaper for the American tourists to buy an American product in London,” said Denis Sagajevs, who works in Shinola, a shop selling watches and leather accessories.

“It’s affected by the fact that they can claim VAT on their way back. We pretty much on a day-to-day basis explain that to customers from the States. It happens to be quite a strong sales driver,” he said.

50 percent increase in shoppers

Some shops are adapting their advertising and sales tactics to the new consumer behavior.

“Before the vote, European tourists were couples who came to be together and maybe bought a couple of things,” said James, the manager of a luxury men’s clothes shop on Carnaby Street.

“Now, there are groups of friends who rush in. They grab everything they can carry.”

James estimated that European and US shoppers coming to his store have increased by around 50 percent.

Instead of spending on costly advertising in British newspapers as it did before, his firm is changing tactic to appeal more to overseas visitors.

They have put up signs outside Underground train stations near the shop. But there are doubts about how long the boom can last.

While the good health of the British economy was confirmed by solid growth of 0.5 percent in the third quarter, the official forecasts for 2017 have been lowered to 1.4 percent from 2.2 percent.

“Our British customer sales are not as strong as before the vote and we don’t even know if this tourism boom is going to last,” James said.

gingerbread city Moa london

Architecture Museum Hosts Gingerbread Exhibition

Gingerbread City is made up of Caramel Wharf, Pancake Rise, Puddington… These are some of the six districts you will have the chance to visit in London this month. And if they do sound like some parts of a city, they are a lot sweeter, though not actually for eating.

These ‘neighborhoods’ are part of Gingerbread City, the latest exhibition hosted by the Museum of Architecture (MoA) and entirely made of sugar. Here you’ll find galleries, small shops, cafés and bars: everything can be eaten – but not yet! All we can say is we hope they’ve figured out how to keep the ants away. They are indeed submissions from some of the UK’s leading architectural schools and firms such 4M Group, Arup, Foster & Partners, Hopkins Architects and spacelab to a great gingerbread structures contest. A total of 64 teams are taking part and will be judged – the story does not say if the judges will be pastry chefs.. or Hansel & Gretel.

Feeling crafty? Workshops will be hosted as well – some might say they are made for families with kids, but no doubt adults with a sweet tooth will be welcome too.

The very sugary event, celebrating of course the British Christmas Spirit, is held as part of the museum’s winter fundraiser. The money raised  (a fee is imposed for a “Plot Passport” on each submission) will be used to to support MoA’s upcoming exhibitions and 2017 program.

Gingerbread City at The Museum of Architecture (MoA) London. From Dec 7 to 22. General public admission: free

Merry Contemporary Christmas: The Connaught, London

Merry Contemporary Christmas: The Connaught, London

Famous London hotel The Connaught has unveiled its Christmas Tree 2016. Designed by British sculptor Antony Gormley, the 17.5-meter-high Western Red Cedar tree has been transformed into a giant beam of light for a contemporary approach to the festive season, via a luminous pole running up its core.

“I thought that rather than decorating the outside of the Christmas tree it would be fun to light its core; the trunk, transforming it into a radiant center against which the branches would become illuminated and silhouetted,” said Gormley. “At this, the darkest time of the year and at a moment of global dysfunction, I hope this magnificent tree conveys a feeling of continuance and vitality.”

Most expensive houses in the world: 5 residential streets only the richest can afford

Having an exclusive postal code is certainly desirable but being on the right street in the right city adds weight to the tried and tested mantra in property investment: location, location, location. From Hong Kong to Miami and the French Rivera, we take a look at the top five most expensive residential streets in the world.

1) Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong

Nestled amidst the greenery of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, Peak Road tops our list as the most expensive residential street in the world. Located at the summit of Hong Kong Island, properties along this prestigious address not only offer panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong city skyline, but also provide a respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Just 15-minutes away from Central, properties on Peak Road average at $10,591 per sq. ft. Records were set for the Hong Kong property market when the 124,000 sq. ft. 75 Peak Road sold for HKD 5.1 billion ($657.7 million) last year.

2) Kensington Palace Gardens, London

London’s ‘Billionaire Row’ is a private, mansion-lined street that is home to the ultra-wealthy and various foreign embassies. Located next to Kensington Palace, average property values; though available properties are rare, cost GBP 42.6 million ($55.19 million). The most expensive property was a 16,500-sq. ft. mansion that sold for GBP 80 million ($124.23 million) to tycoon Wang Jianlin.istock_13481081_medium

3) Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco

Situated in the glitzy city of Monaco, the Avenue Princesse Grâce, named after Hollywood legend Grace Kelly, is the most exclusive and expensive street in this tiny principality. Home to lavish seafront residences selling for $7,990 per square foot, the palm-tree-lined avenue has a slew of notable residents such as Andrea Bocelli, Lewis Hamilton, Roger Moore, and Helena Christensen. However, due to finite space, apartments and properties on the street are currently only available for rent.

4) Indian Creek Island Road, Biscayne Bay, Miami

Located in the exclusive island village of Indian Creek, Miami’s ‘Billionaire Bunker’ is the most expensive residential street in America, where massive waterfront estates average at a hefty $21.48 million. The 294-acre island consists of just 35 estates bordering a private 18-hole golf course, and is heavily protected by its own security force which guards all amenities. The most expensive property was sold for $47 million to a Russian buyer and boasts 13-bedrooms, a 3D theater, and a 7-limo garage!

5) Boulevard du General de Gaulle, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Boasting spectacular views of the Mediterranean Côte d’Azur, Boulevard du Général de Gaulle is one of the priciest streets along the French Riviera, with luxurious beachfront villas costing $79,000 per sq. m. (USD 7,339.35 per sq. ft). Located in the prestigious Cap Ferrat (above), the boulevard is also home to iconic hotels such as the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine. Palace Magazine is published by Lux-Inc.

Top 5 Billionaire Hotspot Cities 2016

In advance of the likely the first billionaire presidency of the USA, our friends at Palace Magazine looked at cities around the world that draw the most attention from the billionaire class. It is of course no surprise that Donald Trump’s home turf, New York City, is a magnet for the one-percenters but you might be surprised to learn that Beijing trumps Shanghai in the billionaire stakes.

New York City

Home to the world’s top financial centres like Wall Street and Silicon Alley, New York draws more moneymaking tycoons than anywhere else in the world, with 79 billionaires holding a combined net worth of $364.6 billion residing in the city. The city also hosts three of the world’s 10 richest people: industrialists Charles and David Koch, each worth $44.6 billion, and ex-New York City Mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg, worth $49.8 billion.

Hong Kong

Asia’s financial capital comes in second with 68 billionaire residents worth a combined $261.3 billion. A lover of luxury, Hong Kong has more Rolls-Royce automobiles per capita than anywhere else in the world, and is home to the most powerful figures in Asia: business magnate Sir Lee Ka-shing, ranked the second-wealthiest man in Asia with a net worth of $32.8 billion, and real estate tycoon Lee Shau-kee, worth $25.1 billion and ranked the second richest in Hong Kong.

Moscowistock_81868491_xxxlarge

The financial capital of the Russian Federation, Moscow has the third most number of billionaires in the world; 60 individuals worth a total of $217.6 billion. Moscow’s super-rich include various self-made commodity moguls such as gas and petrochemical magnate Leonid Mikhelson, Russia’s richest man, worth $16.5 billion, and oil and banking mogul Mikhail Fridman, worth $15.6 billion.

Beijingistock_100563983_xxlarge

Beijing, one of the world’s ancient capitals, comes in fourth with 51 billionaires worth a combined $149.9 billion. Its wealthiest residents include China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, worth $30 billion, as well as Jack Ma, worth $28.3 billion. Both Wang and Ma have recently invested in American entertainment firms, with Wang purchasing Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, and Ma investing in several Hollywood blockbusters.

London

With a strong property market and a reputation as one of the world’s most glamorous cities, London remains an attractive destination for the super-wealthy (Brexit notwithstanding). The city counts 48 billionaire residents who boast a combined wealth of $187.7 billion. They include American businessman Len Blavatnik, worth $14.7 billion, and Indian-born businessmen Sri and Gopi Hinduja, worth $19.9 billion.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

South Quay Plaza Skyline

Brexit Effect: Future Of London Real Estate

In the hours and days following the UK referendum, in which 51.9% of voters elected to exit the European Union, much of the country looked on in shock. The campaign had been a bitter and visceral one, driven by inciting rhetoric around British immigration, the economy and the bureaucratic elite, but many inside Britain and abroad did not expect the leave vote to prevail.

As the world grappled with the results, the markets reacted on a scale not seen since the financial crisis. The pound plunged to the lowest since 1985, Asian stocks tumbled and just days later news came out that Standard & Poor’s had stripped Britain of its triple-A credit rating. The vote has set the nation up for bitter divorce talks ahead, and, since there is no precedent for a country leaving the 28-member-state EU trade block, uncertainty reigns over how exactly the UK will negotiate its new position within the political and economic landscape.

South Quay Plaza

South Quay Plaza

This uncertainty has already affected the property market, particularly in London where some buyers have been pulling out of purchases, concerned about the city’s future. The UK Treasury warned before the vote that residential property prices would be as much as 18% lower if the country voted to leave. Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Economics said housing market activity and prices were at “very serious risk of an extended, marked downturn following the UK’s decision to leave” the European Union. He predicts home prices could fall 5% in the second half of 2016 and a further 5% in 2017.

“The vote in favor of Brexit will generate a period of renewed uncertainty in the prime London residential market”, said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank in London. “Some demand, especially from investors, will be delayed and in some cases redirected”.

South Quay Plaza

South Quay Plaza Resident’s Floor Terrace

Brexit presents renewed uncertainty following a string of events that have already dampened London’s property market. From 2009 to 2014, London repeatedly made headlines for record-breaking sales of super prime mansions to wealthy buyers from Russia, the Middle East and Asia, many of them in the city’s central neighborhoods, the so-called ‘golden postcodes’ that include Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Mayfair and Holland Park. However, since 2014, the market has slowed.

Some of the headwinds have come in the form of taxes. A new stamp duty rate, introduced in December 2014, charges 10% on properties worth over GBP 925,000 ($1.3 million) and 12% on those over GBP 1.5 million ($2.5 million). As of April this year, buyers of second homes and buy-to-let properties face another tax; a 3% stamp duty surcharge intended to level the field between investors and first-time buyers.

The effect of the new stamp duty rates was already being felt in the market, with far fewer transactions recorded in the $2 million plus range. Then, the Brexit campaign gave buyers and sellers further pause. “Buyers and sellers postponed decisions because of the prospect of entering unchartered economic and political territory,” says Tom Bill, Head of London Residential Research at Knight Frank. According Knight Frank data, demand remained subdued in May 2016 even for properties where asking prices had fallen by 10% or more.

South Quay Plaza

South Quay Plaza Corner View

In a city that draws significant investment from international markets, local political upheavals are only part of the puzzle. Over the past year, major foreign investors in British property have been hit with their own setbacks: low oil prices in the Middle East, currency problems in Russia, a recession in Brazil and stock market turmoil in China, all of which have contributed to few high-end transactions. In 2014, Mideast investors made up 15% of prime central London buyers; in 2015 they made up 4%.

According to Yolande Barnes, Head of World Research at Savills, the Brexit campaign became a convenient excuse for a slowdown in the market that was already occurring. Savills figures show prices in prime central London dropped 6% in 2015, and deal volumes shrank have as much as 40%. “Brexit has been a very good excuse for people not to do anything in a market where people wouldn’t have done anything anyway”, Barnes says.

Nevertheless, the unexpected referendum outcome has added another, greater hurdle to a market that was still adjusting to stamp duties and global geopolitical factors. “The prime London property market would benefit from something that appears unlikely in the near-term: an uneventful six months”, says Knight Frank’s Tom Bill.

For some foreign investors, however, the current turmoil represents an opportunity. Buyers will get increased value in purchasing London properties as a result of a depreciating sterling, says Peter Wetherell, a Mayfair-based broker. “For overseas buyers, this big and dramatic drop in the value of sterling will effectively offset the Stamp Duty and tax adjustments and it will make prime London property a lucrative investment for overseas investors bold enough to take a punt despite the market uncertainty”.

View from One Tower Bridge — Master Bedroom

View from One Tower Bridge — Master Bedroom

For many who believe in London’s long-term resilience, the current market disruptions do not change the overall attractiveness of the city, particularly as a haven for wealth preservation. Research from Knight Frank shows that over the last decade the city has drawn more than twice the number of High Net Worth Individuals from emerging markets (114,000) than the US and Australia combined (42,000 and 22,000 respectively). Investors are drawn by the city’s safety, good schools, green environment and central time zone, factors unlikely to change as a result of the Brexit vote.

The city is also actively investing in the future. A wider look at the real estate market also reveals that while demand for Prime Central London property has fallen in recent years, there has been an uptick in interest around greater London, where regeneration schemes and renewed connectivity and infrastructure projects are shifting the landscape of luxury living.

“As the golden postcodes of London became less affordable after the financial crisis, buyers have increasingly looked for better value further afield”, Tom Bill says. Though they are looking for better value they still want “best-in-class specifications and facilities”, and this means there is a growing focus on the quality of schemes rather than a desire to be in a specific area.

Developers have tapped into this demand, and it is raising the overall level of quality of new-build developments, which increasingly incorporate amenity packages, services, commercial and cultural components. While such experiments in urbanism and place making are common in cities like Miami, Hong Kong or Singapore, they are a relatively new phenomenon in London.

Southbank, one of the first areas to be revitalized, was not previously on the map for wealthy investors, but has experienced a faster rate of growth compared to other prime neighborhoods and serves as an example of how new markets can mature, says Tom Bill.

One Tower Bridge

One Tower Bridge Exterior

In addition to The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe), the area is the site of More London, master planned by Foster + Partners, and One Tower Bridge, a project from Berkeley Homes that combines luxury residences with shops, restaurants, pedestrian walkways and a lively riverfront park. In addition to its cultural offerings, The Ivy, a popular London brasserie recently announced plans to open a ground floor location at One Tower Bridge, and The London Theatre will soon occupy the development’s 900-seat sunken theater. The scheme itself incorporates significant space to outdoor living, also a novelty for London. “What is really special about this project is the amount of dynamic terrace and roof space, along with outdoor kitchens, hot tubs and gazebos”, says Murray Levinson, a partner at Squire & Partners who designed the project.

From the top of the Tower Penthouse, which comes complete with a roof terrace and hot tub, you can see the across the Thames to the city of London, the Tower Bridge, Tower of London and beyond. The lower-rise buildings, positioned facing the river, feature sliding glass doors that open onto wide terraces with views of City Hall and Tower Bridge. The views have been a strong selling point for the project, which is currently 90% sold. The quality of construction (interiors feature handcrafted joinery, polished marble worktops, Miele appliances and home automation systems), has also been a draw, as has the amenities package: 24-hour concierge service from Harrods Estates, a gym, spa and indoor pool are included. Roughly 23 units remain, including select penthouses. These are priced around $3,900 per square foot.

The mixed-use concept is also proliferating in greater London with schemes such as Nine Elms slated to include 20,000 new homes, and further west, White City, which is the site of a $10 billion overhaul that aims to transform the area from a stark, largely commercial landscape into a lively neighborhood with 5,000 new homes, shops and an office hub for media related companies. As part of the revival, London developer Stanhope is converting the former BBC headquarters into luxury residences.

To the east, tall towers are also multiplying in a city that was once defined by a more uniform, low-scale urbanism. At Canary Wharf, Herzog & de Meuron has designed a new tower nicknamed the Rolling Pin because of its tall cylindrical shape, and Foster + Partners have designed South Quay Plaza, the tallest residential project currently under construction in the EU.

One Tower Bridge

One Tower Bridge Triplex Terrace View

Historically a busy port, and more recently the site of a burgeoning financial district, Canary Wharf is also becoming an increasingly coveted place to live. Expectations for future growth are bolstered by the arrival of the new Crossrail Line, scheduled to run in 2018, which will significantly cut travel times to central London. Today the area still feels largely corporate, but developers intend to blend residential and commercial programs with increased connectivity as the community matures.

“Canary Wharf is becoming more mixed-use and will grow to a population of 200,000,” says Harry Lewis, Managing Director of Berkeley Homes who is developing South Quay Plaza. “Rental yields are higher here, and the arrival of the Crossrail will be a game-changer.”

South Quay Plaza is situated on the waterfront directly opposite the CBD and though many of the adjacent buildings are built right to the edge of the shoreline, Grant Brooker, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners wanted to approach the site differently. “It’s important to let daylight through”, he says, explaining that by skewing the cube-shaped towers, which have a relatively small footprint (over 64% of the site will not be developed), he was able to create many more exposures. “The building doesn’t have a rear side”, he says. “Every unit has fantastic frontage”.

Brooker’s team also uses their extensive experience designing buildings internationally to create a comprehensive amenities program, which features a health club, spa and 20-meter pool, and a residents’ club lounge that spans the entire 56th floor and includes a bar, screening room and a large terrace. “The type of amenity that is required for a building to really work was missing in earlier developments in London”, Brooker says.

Scheduled for occupation starting in 2020, South Quay Plaza will include 888 units across the 36-storey and 68-storey towers ranging from studios to three-bedroom residences and penthouses. So far Berkeley Homes has released 350 units with prices starting from $990,000. To date, half of these units have sold, and demand from Asia has been strong: 50% of the project’s international buyers hail from China.

Adam Challis, Head of Residential Research at Jones Lang LaSalle says regeneration schemes such as Canary Wharf are particularly popular with Asian buyers because they understand the long-term investment potential. “They understand it because they have seen it happen in their own countries”, he says. Challis has also noted an overall shift in buyer attitude in recent years, wherein investors are taking the long view, looking carefully at programs, schemes and neighborhoods and approaching the decision as an investment in London as a whole.

Time will tell how Britain manages to negotiate its exit from the European Union, and how London fairs as a result of the changes. Much will depend on Brexit’s lasting implications for British businesses, particularly those in the country’s enormous financial sector. Before the referendum, London’s population was projected to grow by 100,000 people a year for the next decade and housing supply was lagging. For those who believe in the city’s future and continued potential for growth, now might be an opportune time to take the plunge.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Illuminated river art project london

“Illuminated River” Contest Lights Up Thames

Lighting up the Thames after dark, is the ambition of London’s “Illuminated River” art project, originally launched by writer and filmmaker Hannah Rothschild. “Imagine going to Paris or Rome and not being able to walk alongside the Seine or the Tiber. Imagine New York without the Brooklyn Bridge lit up. And what would Londoners think if St Paul’s or the Houses of Parliament or the National Gallery were dark most of the time? The Thames is our liquid history and we must reclaim it.” declared Rothschild to the Guardian.

ai Guo-Qiang - 'London Bridge is Falling Down' © MRC and Adjaye Associates

Cai Guo-Qiang – ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’

Architects and agencies were asked to propose creative designs for Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea bridges. The winning proposal will transform 17 bridges along the River, making it “a ribbon of light”. Among 100 entries, 6 projects have been shortlisted: Adjaye Associates, A_LA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Leo Villareal with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Future\Pace, Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella, and Sam Jacob Studio with Simon Heijdens.

Each team has taken a different approach to the project. London-based Adjaye Associates, for example, have assigned a different artist to each bridge, including the world-renowned contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, and have focused on the bridges’ individual histories. Architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands have worked with Leo Villareal, the imagination behind The Bay Lights installation on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in 2013, to create an interactive light display that would involve participation from a ferry boat operator. The designs by Sam Jacob and Simon Heijdens show a three-dimensional ribbon of light rising and lowering with the tide.

A River Ain’t Too Much To Light / Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella. London Bridge. © MRC and Les Éclairagistes Associés

A River Ain’t Too Much To Light / Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella. London Bridge.

The successful projects are presented this month at the Royal Festival Hall exhibition, where the public are invited to share their opinions on the designs via a short survey, although the vote itself will be decided by an 11-member jury. The winning team will be announced on December 8, and the installations will be completed in 2018.

London Named World’s Best City Brand

In the 2017 edition of the World’s Best City Brands report prepared by consultancy group Resonance, London scored the leading edge over cities like Singapore and New York which took second and third spots respectively.

To determine the strongest city brands in the world, researchers looked at everything from the quality of a city’s parks and open spaces; diversity of people; safety, economic prosperity; variety of restaurants and nightlife; and the quality of arts and culture.

Overall, the list is represented by cities in Europe, the US, Australia, Asia and Canada.

Thanks to the city’s dynamic shopping scene, gastronomy and pulsing arts and culture, London saw a record 31.5 million visitors in 2015, marking a 20 percent increase from just five years earlier, note Resonance researchers.

“London, right now, is a tight, highly curated Venn diagram of multi-ethnic revelry, enviable luxury retail, coveted universities and colleges (more than 40 institutions of higher education are based in the city), and the restaurants to sate the palates of curious global wanderers,” reads the report.

And according to their metrics which looks at social media, comments, and shared images, no other city generates as many online reviews and content for visitors.

Likewise, it helps that the British capital is easily accessible, with five local airports connecting international visitors from around the world.

And while the results of Brexit may have sideswiped the city’s reputation for inclusivity, given that London is considered more a city-state than Britain’s capital, researchers predict the city will “come back brighter from adversity.”

For the list, Resonance examined metropolitan and capital cities across six categories: place, product, programming, people, prosperity and promotion.

The results were shared at the World Travel Market trade show in London Tuesday.

Here are the top 10 world city brands according to Resonance:
1. London
2. Singapore
3. New York
4. Paris
5. Sydney
6. Amsterdam
7. Los Angeles
8. Tokyo
9. San Francisco
10. Toronto