Discovery Primea, the 68-storey tower designed by the late Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and Filipino architect Jorge Ramos, was the lone Philippine property named in a report on luxury real estate in Asia published by the lifestyle arm of international business magazine Forbes in December 2009.
The landmark development, presently under construction on the former site of the Gilarmi Apartments along Ayala Avenue in Makati, was cited for its “in-residence catering and medical clinic serving just 90 flats”.
Using data culled from the annual cost-of-living survey of global consultancy group Mercer, the Forbes report ranked the 16 priciest cities to live in Asia based on the average cost of renting a high-end two-bedroom apartment. Tokyo topped the list, followed by Hong Kong, Beijing, Mumbai, Shanghai, Seoul,Singapore, Sydney, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Manila, Melbourne, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Auckland, and Taipei.
Other notable Asian properties named in the report were the Binjai on the Park in Kuala Lumpur, Diamond Island in Ho Chi Minh City, and the Denpasar Residence in Jakarta.
Only 90 homes
The 90-unit configuration of Discovery Primea cited in the Forbes report was conceived by the property’s developer, JTKC Land, to ensure optimum privacy for the tower’s residents. Homes were deliberately kept few in number, but were designed to be exceptionally large. All are three or four-bedroom apartments measuring 382 to 680 square meters, with just two units to a floor.
The strict limit placed on the number of homeowners made possible a range of resident services that would be impractical to sustain in communities of a higher population density. One of these is a private wellness clinic that is operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by one of the country’s top heart specialists and his team of doctors and nurses.
A team of professionals under the auspices of the Discovery Leisure Group will be permanently installed at the tower to provide home management services exclusively for the 90 homeowners, dispensing with the need to individually maintain large numbers of household staff.
The Discovery Leisure Group owns and operates the Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay and the Discovery Shores in Boracay, properties listed with the Kiwi Collection and Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Built to last
In addition to the 90 homes and medical clinic cited in the Forbes report, the architecture of Discovery Primea assures its ascendancy on the skyline of Asia. The tower’s design is one of the final creations of the late Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, whose immortal works include the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Stadium that shaped the look of modern Japan.
Timelessness, as interpreted by Tange, goes beyond design aesthetics and extends to the ability of a building to physically endure over time.
“At the time we began work on the design of Discovery Primea ten years ago, maintenance issues were already being considered, because this building is going to stay for a very long time,” says Paul Tange, the Harvard-trained son of the Japanese architect, who took over the reins after his father’s passing in 2005. “The structure can last for fifty, sixty, or a hundred years, but maintenance has to be well-thought-out, because the pipes and mechanical structures cannot last as long. We designed the building so that these things can be maintained easily.”
“Japan is a seismic zone, so we always place a lot of emphasis on that,” Tange adds. “Aside from seismic activity, which may occur from time to time, the more frequent effect of the wind blowing against the building is also accounted for. Each element you see coming out of the body of the building, such as the balconies and bay windows, help in softening the effect of the wind. Even the apartment floor plans were designed to soften the effect of the wind on the entire building.”
Tange designed the layout of Discovery Primea so that every home is a corner unit, with views not just on two, but on three sides.
Tower of strength
Discovery Primea is the first building to be constructed along Ayala Avenue’s historic Apartment Ridge in the last 20 years. Development along this illustrious stretch began in the nascent days of the Makati central business district, when the Monterrey and Gilarmi Apartments were built in the early 1960s to herald a new era in high-rise living. Following Monterrey and Gilarmi were the Urdaneta Apartments in 1973; the Twin Towers, the Ritz Towers, and Makati Tuscany in the 1980s; and the Pacific Plaza in the early 1990s.
Wilson A. Sy, Vice-President of SY2 + Associates , Inc (“Sy Squared”, formerly Aromin & Sy + Associates), the firm behind the structural design of Discovery Primea, also helmed the structural design of the Pacific Plaza and the Ritz Towers on Apartment Ridge. “To be involved in what will soon be the tallest residential building in the Philippines is a remarkable honor for our firm,” says Sy. “We have been behind the structural design of the tallest buildings in the Philippines since we began work on the Pacific Plaza on Apartment Ridge in 1987.” Sy’s firm was also behind the structural design of the Pacific Plaza Towers at The Fort and One Roxas Triangle.
The eminent buildings of a city signal the position it holds in the world. Discovery Primea’s emergence in the Forbes report augurs an auspicious future for Makati’s place on the global stage, as the business district enters its second half-century with its premier neighborhood, the Apartment Ridge, still leading the charge.