Private pools the latest must-have for luxury flat buyers

Ultra-rich not afraid to make a splash

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 November, 2015, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 November, 2015, 3:12pm

For most apartment dwellers, having a communal pool somewhere on the property is a treat.

But these days, for a clutch of people buying luxury flats, having to share a pool with neighbours just isn’t good enough. For them, developers are creating apartment buildings that have the ultimate in exclusivity: a private pool in the unit.

Hong Kong design and architecture firm James Law Cybertecture International is now working on a building, Bandra Ohm in Mumbai, where each of the 64 units will have its own plunge pool.

In Kuala Lumpur, the tagline of the One KL block of flats is “94 Apartments, 95 Swimming Pools” – each flat has one, and then there’s a communal pool for residents who feel like being sociable.

Still, while unusual, these individual pools are hardly for serious swimming; about half of the 31 flats at Soori High Line in New York, designed by Singaporean architect Soo Chan for completion in 2017, will have their own private heated pools, which range in size from 7.3 metres to 8.5 metres long, and are about 1.2 metres deep.

Nonetheless, it’s all about impact.

If you are going to spend US$20 million on a home, you want to have all these amenities right in front of your door
Henrich von Hanau, Fisher Island Holdings

“Our client asked us for that ‘X-factor’,” said Charles Chu, director and project leader of the design division of James Law Cybertecture. “We decided that something never before seen is a luxurious infinity pool in every flat.”

After all, those shopping at the upper end of the spectrum are typically spoilt for choice, with concierge services, elaborate spas and gyms, even on-site cafes are increasingly commonplace in multi-million-dollar apartment buildings around the globe.

Henrich von Hanau, chief executive of Fisher Island Holdings, which is developing the ultra-pricey Palazzo Del Sol condominium on Fisher Island in Florida, says its penthouses and lanai units (on the ground floor, with an outdoor area) will have their own pools.

“If you are going to spend US$20 million on a home, you want to have all these amenities right in front of your door,” said von Hanau, who was in Hong Kong recently meeting with potential buyers. “At the very high end, expectations are higher.”

The three penthouses range in size from 6,600 sq ft to 9,500 sq ft, with an additional 3,500 sq ft to 6,000 sq ft of terrace space, which holds the private pools. They are priced between US$26 million and US$35 million – and two of them have sold.

Von Hanau said that the majority of people who live on the island do not use it as their primary residence, and being able to have a second, third or fourth home that offers all the luxuries of a sprawling estate, yet with the conveniences of apartment living, is too good to pass up. “It’s definitely a draw,” he said.

Not that creating private pools in apartment units doesn’t come with its own share of hassles. “It can be difficult to implement, and potentially there are issues of privacy and waterproofing,” said Edgardo Defortuna, founder and president of Fortune International Group, which is developing Jade Signature in Miami.

“But at the same time, many high-end designers and architects are trying to come up with ideas to make living in an apartment more of a house experience – almost like houses in the skies.”

Penthouses at the 57-storey Jade Signature, which are priced at US$30 million and US$35 million, will have their own pools on terraces that are designed to be almost an extension of the living space: the pool of one penthouse will face the ocean, the other will look at city lights – so there’s no chance that those residents will even have to see one another lounging poolside up there. The terraces in other units may be used for jacuzzis, whirlpools and plunge pools.

“For many people, it’s unique,” said Defortuna. “Buyers of that magnitude want to have something that others don’t have.”

That was the brief given to James Law Cybertecture International by its Mumbai client, Green Bird-Parinee Developers.

“It was difficult to think about the technical side of this,” said Chu. “The heavy loading, the thickness of the glass, how to maintain a pool in a balcony, there was a lot to consider.”

The plunge pools are 1.5 metres long and 1 metre deep, and fit in seamlessly with the curved, futuristic architectural style of the building. The company has been working on the design since 2012 but construction has yet to begin.

Still, Chu said that private apartment pools must “add value” to any property. “It can’t just be decorative or gimmicky,” he said. “It has to have a function, and be of value to the residents to help them live more comfortably.”