Asian cities fare well, says Wealth Report

Prime property remains incredibly important to the world’s wealthiest people, if the 2011 edition of The Wealth Report is to be believed. Also, six of the 10 biggest risers (prime city and second-home locations) are in Asia, highlighting the region’s continuing economic surge, but established centres such as London and New York also performed strongly.

Almost 40% of the 85 prime city and second-home locations in 40 countries that were analysed by the report’s Prime International Index (Piri) rose in value during 2010, 17 of them by 10% or more. A number of locations, however, saw values fall significantly. These include Dublin (-25%) and Dubai (-10%).

According to the report’s unique Attitudes Survey, lifestyle and investment are the key drivers for luxury second-home purchases, but education is of growing importance, especially among Asian Ultra High Networth Individuals (UHNWIs).

For those UHNWIs who change their main country of residence, tax is the biggest motivator.  New York and London remain at the head of The Wealth Report’s Global Cities Index, but respondents to the Attitudes Survey predict that Asian cities such as Shanghai and Mumbai will start to close the gap over the next 10 years.

Points out Andrew Shirley, editor of The Wealth Report comments, “The collective worth of the global HNWI community increased by 22% last year, according to data in the 2011 Wealth Report, so it is not surprising that many of the world’s luxury property markets benefitted. The biggest increase in wealth was in Asia Pacific (+35%) and that is where we also recorded the biggest increases in property prices.

“However, it is not just wealth creation that is ensuring that the international prime property market contains players from more countries than ever before. As we have seen recently in North Africa and the Middle East, a number of major geopolitical shifts are now playing out around the world. These all serve to enhance the desirability of true global centres, like London and New York.”

The Wealth Report was launched by a global residential and commercial property consultant Knight Frank and a leading private bank.


New York and London are seen by HNWIs to remain the world’s leading hubs over the next 10 years, but emerging nation centres are fast catching up. Mumbai increases in importance by 118%, Shanghai by 91%, and Sao Paolo by 66%

Almost 40% of the world’s most exclusive residential property markets increased in value during 2010 – Six of the 10 biggest risers were in Asia.

Luxury property price growth was highest in Shanghai with a 21% rise. London and New York saw increases of 10% and 13% respectively. Monaco remains the most expensive residential location in the world, followed by London.

 Schooling and tax are growing drivers for super-rich property purchases: 29% of SE Asia second-home buyers cite “education of children” as their main second-home purchase reason.

On average, property accounts for 35% of the investment portfolios of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs). Sixty per cent of HNWIs will increase their charitable giving over the next five years; spending on art,fine wines and private jets and yachts will also rise significantly.


Bangalore’s luxury projects

Acron Infra Projects has recently been awarded the work of constructing Smondoville, a residential complex in Neotown Electronic City, Bangalore for Patel Realty.

Acron Infra Projects will construct seven multi-storey residential towers each comprising a stilt plus twelve floors totally measuring over 400,000 sqft.

Acron Infra Projects have constructed approximately 1,00,000 sq ft of warehouses, over 1 million sq ft of residential and commercial buildings and are shortly commencing the construction of a 400,000 sq ft five-star hotel at Chembur in northeast Mumbai.

Completed projects also include turnkey constructions of, community centers, schools and office complexes in various parts of South India.

Mantri Espana

Located at Sarjapur Road, Mantri Espana is an ultra luxurious project, reminiscent of Spanish colonial architecture. The project unifies the Mediterranean style with modern design-patterned arches, tiled courtyards, red roof and terraces along with expansive windows and open spaces. With a five swimming pools including one indoor heated pool, landscaped gardens, and the concept of Tele medicine.

Mantri Espana brings the pioneering concept of ‘Tele Medicine’ to all its residents. This means that residents at Mantri Espana will be provided personal care from The Apollo Hospital.

The unit will be set up within the Espana project and will be equipped with emergency medicines, detention facilities, qualified nurse and paramedical staff and facilities for 24X7 consultations, through video conferencing. The ultra luxury space comes with amenities including swimming pools including boulevards, an atrium with a lounge area for each tower, jogging / walking trail, an outdoor exercise area with equipment, children’s play areas, a creche, an amphitheatre etc


Pritzker award for Portuguese architect

Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has won the 2011 Pritzker Prize, popularly called architecture’s Nobel Prize.

He will be presented the award – in the form of  a  $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion – at a formal ceremony in Washington, DC on June 2.

This is the second time in the history of the Pritzker Prize that a Portuguese architect has been chosen.

The first was in 1992, when Alvaro Siza, one-time mentor of Souto de Moura, received the award.  

Other winners of the coveted award include architectural giants such as Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, IM Pei, Zaha Hadid and Renzo Piano.

Endowed by Chicago’s billionaire Pritzker family, the Pritzker Prize recognises a living architect who has made “consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.”  

The seven-member award jury praised 58-year-old Souto de Moura  for his creative use of materials as well as unexpected dashes of  colour in his works.

“During the past three decades, Eduardo Souto de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of  architectural traditions,” the jury said in its citation.  

“His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics – power and modesty,  bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy – at the same time.”

His projects include single-family homes, shopping centres, hotels, offices, art galleries and museums, sports facilities and subway stations.

“There is no ecological architecture, no intelligent architecture, no sustainable architecture; there is only good architecture,” Souto de Moura said. “There are always problems we must not eglect – energy, resources, costs, social aspects; one must always pay attention to all these.”

Achal Narayanan

Chicago’s grand architecture

Chicago is probably the only city in the world whose tourism office takes visitors on free tours around the city – that too year round, regardless of the weather – to enjoy its spectacular architecture.  The locals are rightly proud of their buildings, particularly the skyscrapers, since, Chicago was built on a swamp!

The highest building in Chicago is the 108 storey high Willis Tower, (formerly known as the Sears Building,) which soars to a magnificent height of 1451 feet (about 440 metres) across the Chicago Skyline.

As early as 1873, architect Frederick Bauman designed a 10 storey building on a broad foundation pad to enable the weight to be distributed over the marshland.  The next step was for architects to use vertical and transverse girders which served as skeletons for the surrounding brick walls.   

Today, these buildings have expanded to span edifices of glass, steel, and even terra-cotta. This unique mixture of styles has succeeded in giving Chicago pride of place as a living museum of grand architecture.

Architectural tour

The architectural tour appeals to everybody irrespective of their knowledge of Architecture or otherwise, as long as they have an eye for the unusual.  

One of the tour guides says, “this city has many faces, some are wacky and some breathtaking.”

The famous “loop,” which is the business district, has theatres, art galleries, museums, restaurants and lots of art. This art work includes murals by Miro and even a metal sculpture by Picasso.

An impressive building is the “Marquette,” a structure whose façade is brown-banded terra-cotta; it surrounds steel-framed structures.

Chicago’s Architectural Foundation (CAF) boasts of a fleet of riverfront boats. You can board one of these and pass over 50 buildings ranging from classical to modernistic; The Wrigley’s Building has a dazzling white glazed terra-cotta façade, the Smurfit-stone building has a diamond shaped upper storied facet and the Marina-City semi-circular structure, which has appropriately been nicknamed the “Corn Cobs.” The list goes on and on making Chicago’s one of the most impressive skylines in the world.

Chicago, however, is not all about high-rises. A bus tour, also run by the CAF, takes visitors on a guided tour of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighbourhood.  

This covers gracious old mansions on shady avenues. The most famous of these mansions is Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s Pioneer twentieth Century architect, who transformed America’s building scene.

Mala Ashok