If staying at home could improve your health wouldn’t you be a homebody? iProperty.com ponders on this and more as Dr Lim Yin Chow, Chairman of HSC Healthcare Sdn Bhd (HSC) and Ir Seth Lim, CEO of HSB, present Malaysia’s first healthy sustainable building (HSB) concept through AraGreens Damansara. We talked about health, wealth and properties in the high growth area of Ara Damansara.
iProperty: With HSC and HSB being closely affiliated, could you explain how HSB came about?
Dr Lim Yin Chow (HSB): HSB Development Sdn Bhd is part of the HSC Healthcare Group established since 2003. It was founded by myself and my partner, Dr Soo. We began operations in PNB Darby Park and invested in our current premises in 2005. When we began in the property development sector, we wanted to redefine the concept that most people had about healthcare.
As we all know, the public in general will only look for a doctor when they are ill but what if you could prevent yourself from falling ill in the first place? This is what we hope to do when we developed AraGreens, to create a change in lifestyle and the public concept of healthcare so that they no longer have to seek the doctor because they are ill but to have a healthy and sustainable lifestyle that prevents disease. This is the true intent of the health and wellness pillar incorporated within our concept.
Like Good Medicine
iP: So, tell why the venture into property development from medicine?
Ir. Seth Lim (HSB): When Dr Lim and I discussed this issue, healthcare was indeed the foremost on our minds. Most high-end condos that you see today have the hardware of the building all girded up but they only incorporate the software of the residents towards the last phase of the building. So you will see wheelchair-accessible ramps and other amenities to aid those with health challenges but they seem to be an afterthought.
What we have done is to turn this idea of healthcare as a final destination into one that is holistic by incorporating health and wellness into the DNA of the building by building both the hardware and the software concurrently. The healthcare of the development caters to the A-Z needs of the residents and the design team was briefed from day one to develop this health and sustainable design. The concept was generated by social needs that were then distilled to a market need as we saw the demand for an environment where people can live healthily.
At AraGreens Damansara, what you will find is a multi-generational home that is designed for the specific needs of babies and young children all the way to the golden citizens in their twilight years. This is interpreted in the space planning of the units which are wheelchair and disabled-friendly as well as childproof, translating into medically-enabled homes for those with disabilities. It transcends just design and taps into functionality and facilities with total communal facilities located within the commercial hub of AraGreens Damansara.
iP: When you mention medically-enabled homes, what do these features entail?
HSB: Coming from a medical background with HSC enables us to have an insight into what truly makes a medically-enabled home. We have equipped every home with our trademark and patented MediHome System which is a WiFi-enabled system that registers and records a resident and their family members’ health metrics to our hospital servers, where they are kept for medical reference and in case of emergencies.
This value-added service is one that measures basic health metrics such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels, oximetry and electrocardiogram (ECG). What we do is to enable health screening to be done based on the family’s medical history as well as the resident’s current health condition.
In terms of the hardware, of course every home is wheelchair-friendly and we even provide handicapped-sensitive features in our finishes such as having non-slip tiles in the wet areas of the home. More than that of course is providing high quality finishes like Duravit and Grohe sanitary ware and Iseo locksets throughout the units.
Green Living Personified
iP: Are there other distinguishing features in HSB AraGreens?
HSB: There are three pillars to AraGreens Damansara which are health and wellness, multi-generational homes and innovative green design. We have covered wellness and now let’s discuss the dual key concept which is the backbone of our multi-generational homes. Unlike in other parts of the world, filial ties are a time-honoured tradition in Asia that persists even till today. There are many health and societal benefits that follow when one lives with their family unit yet, when children grow up and have families of their own, they need some privacy as well.
Understanding these needs, we developed the dual key unit where the larger 3+1 bedroom unit is separated from the 2 unit with a non-structural wall, with two entrances per apartment. This gives rise to multiple layout versatility as the non-structural wall may be removed upon signing of SPA to make it a larger unit. Those who retain the wall have the flexibility of living just next door to their elders or siblings, or renting out to tenants. There are seven types to choose from with built-ups from 684 sq ft to 3,831 sq ft, to match the needs of every group.
iP: Tell us about the Rhizome-inspired concept and the Green qualifications of AraGreens Damansara.
HSB: For the Green credentials, we are aiming for the BCA Green Mark Singapore (Gold Plus) and the Green Builidng Index (GBI) Malaysia. As you know, the architect, Warren Liu of WOW Architects, Singapore is the winner of a design competition held among six of the top architects from Singapore and Malaysia to come up with the concept for AraGreens Residences.
The rhizome-inspired concept is an organic concept based on the network clusters of rhizome roots. This represents interconnectivity within and between the buildings and in the inter-floor and inter-phase areas, creating an organic, living, breathing community here as well as one that reflects our network of family and friends that nourishes and grounds us.
The faade rotates every two floors allowing for greater privacy and natural light and ventilation to the entire building. It also makes the building faade more organic instead of the blocks we are so used to.
The sun shielding devices block out the sun but not the views and helps with overall energy efficiency. The central void housing all the air condition vents enable hot air to rise directly to the top, naturally cools down the building via a wind tunnel effect.
iP: How many phases are there and what is the current take-up rate?
HSB: There are two phases spread over a 8.5-acre freehold land in Ara Damansara. With 700 units of serviced apartments in a gated and guarded community, the residential component or Phase 1 comprises of six 15-storey blocks built over 7.42 acres. Meanwhile, Phase 2, the commercial component, houses AraGreens Village, which is a comprehensive Clubhouse for residents to enjoy the best of lifestyle amenities. This portion will be leased out for recurral income and selected members of the public will be able to enjoy its privileges in future as well. This is slated for completion in 2016, when it will also be fully-operational.
We are proud to say the AraGreens lives up to its name with 63% green area throughout the project with health and wellness emphasized through the 1.4km jogging tracks throughout. Residents can move about the community freely as there will be no vehicular traffic on the ground level thanks to the 2.5-storey underground car parks.
When we launched the first tower, Block D, in March this year, we received tremendous response with a 60% take-up rate. All the smaller units have been sold out and we are temporarily holding the sales to register interest before AraGreens Residences’ official launch in the middle of June this year. At the official launch, we plan to unveil Tower E and the balance units of Tower D to the public. We plan to progressively launch the entire development with Tower F to be open for registration before Tower A, B and C.
Locating AraGreens in the high growth area of Ara Damansara is a boost not only to our portfolio but also the lives of the community around us. We are located right opposite one of the master developer’s projects and based on comparison alone, the price of the land around us has more than doubled in value all the while we were refining the concept, which took us four years.
A quick check for similar projects around the area will show you that ours is a valuable proposition at RM650psf while theirs is already at RM700psf and above. This is comparable to living in the KLCC area but with a lower density and a higher propensity for growth. Another thing is our lower entry barrier, comparing with another project in the area, the entrance is at RM900,000 for a unit of equal size within the same vicinity while AraGreens’ price range of RM500,000 to RM2.4 million is a realistic goal even for property investors. That said, of course most of our purchasers so far are buying for their own stay and this is encouraging news indeed for the growth of a community.
iP: Rounding up, let’s talk about HSB’s plans going forward. Are there other land banks in acquisition and will there be overseas expansion?
HSB: We are always looking at other states and countries to bring our concept to as we believe that health and wellness is truly more precious than gold and silver. We are looking at Cyberjaya next as it is a good nexus for growth and may still benefit from a comprehensive health and sustainable building. Meanwhile Penang is also seen as a state that not only has the volume of medical tourists that visit her shores but also is an open market for this concept to be taken up.
Going forward, in the next five to ten years, we hope to bring the HSB concept to the region of South East Asia and even to China. We believe that our resort-like multigenerational homes supported with wellness facilities and a comprehensive network of connectivity and accessibility is a model that will translate well into the future needs of communities nationwide, regionally and even globally.