Tokyo, Japan — When Nomura Real Estate Development executive officer Atsushi Ogata enters the meeting room of his company’s headquarters in Shinjuku, Tokyo, with the Marc Chagall masterpiece at one end and the panorama of Tokyo’s financial district from the window, he seamlessly eases into the Japanese corporate mode of energized calm and focus: he casually juggles small talk about the aesthetics of “wabi-sabi”, or the art of finding beauty in imperfection, while zeroing in on his company’s push to tap into the growing demand for luxury condominiums in SoutheastAsia.
“Wabi-sabi is about finding natural materials that have an unconscious aesthetic,” he explained to the Manila Standard, while giving a preview of The Season Residences, a joint venture between Filipino developer Federal Land, Nomura and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, a Japanese department store operator.
“The Japanese way of life and way of living at home — with its emphasis on technology and minimalist elegance — includes many warm brown and gray materials: the wood, stone, concrete and steel used in the interior all have knots and grains with very subtle imperfections, some of which will also change over time. It’s about celebrating what’s naturally incomplete, “ he said.
Balance and stylish efficiency
To be built at the emerging 10-ha Grand Central Park in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, The Seasons will bear the Japanese hallmarks of balance and stylish efficiency. Ogata promised that the project will be designed with precision, and features Japanese innovations meant to elevate the standards of comfort, convenience and functionality for its homeowners.
All four residential towers will feature Japanese elements that focus on technology, functionality, safety and harmony with the environment. Each tower will rise 41 to 50 stories high, with the first tower, Haru, offering 304 residential units with cuts ranging from 49 sqm to 175 sqm.
“We looked at a lot of condos in the Philippines and we may be a bit advanced given that Nomura already has 30 years experience in building residential projects, “Ogata said. But we believe that the Philippines is also already in that stage wherein it is making really good quality structures and if you combine that with our skills and technology, then I know that we will be able to create and build good quality buildings.”
Ogata added that The Seasons Residences will incorporate new technologies and features that the Philippine market may not have not seen before.
“We try to differentiate ourselves from the others through the quality of our projects,” he said. “For Nomura it just keeps getting better year after year and this is the experience and skill that we are bringing to the Philippines. We put our expertise into this project so you will see that the residents of The Seasons will enjoy a safe comfortable and sustainable life.”
Tapping Asia’s real estate mother lode
Ogata revealed that Japanese real estate developers and homebuilders have built 30,000 residential units in the Southeast region in the past five years, and are planning to develop around 80,000 more in the next five years, or about US$2.5 billion in joint ventures overseas, according to Nomura’s calculations.
In addition to healthy economic growth in the region, which is lifting demand for high-end housing, buyers’ similarities to Japanese make the market attractive for Japanese players. Many of the same design principles and specifications Japanese condo developers use at home also work well in Southeast Asia.
He noted that Nomura’s team up with Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings and Federal Land, a subsidiary of GT Capital Holdings, aims to meet the demand which is outpacing supply in the Philippines’ housing market because of the growing ranks of middle-class consumers.
He added that housing and shopping complexes are just one of the many upmarket condo projects Japanese builders are engaged in Southeast Asia. “Local customers, for example, also appreciate housing fixtures and features designed to meet Japanese quality standards, such as sophisticated wet areas—bathrooms, kitchens and the like,” he said.
Because of the booming demand, Ogata said Nomura Real Estate is also looking into markets in Thailand and Singapore, where urbanization started early, and now neighboring countries, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Another wild card is demand from Chinese investors. “Many of our luxury condos in the region have been bought by Chinese speculators,” he volunteered.
Ogata said the joint venture with Federal Land was largely due to two companies’ “similar philosophy in real estate development and that GT Capital, the holding company of Federal Land, has a lot of experience working with Japanese companies, so they know how we work.”
The Seasons is Nomura’s first project in the Philippines. The project is 60 percent Federal Land, 20 percent Nomura, and 20 percent Mitsukoshi.
“The Philippines is a growing country with a young population,” he explained. “Japan has a decreasing and ageing population. Our average age is 45 and yours is 23. Also we have very similar cultures and Japanese people are very comfortable when we go to the Philippines. So we see that we have a lot of opportunities in the Philippines.”
Future residents are set to revel in a host of amenities that will bring the Japanese way of life to the fore at The Seasons. The amenity floor will be divided into zones that reflect the four seasons of Japan. Active Spring will house a well-equipped gym, daycare and tranquil gardens while Breezy Summer will feature pools, playground, game and karaoke rooms. A well-appointed business center, reading lounge and a music studio will be housed at Creative Autumn, while a spa with stone baths and a dry garden will be the main features of Dreamy Winter.
The amenity deck will also have one unique feature, The Guest House, a serene space with a tea room and bedroom where visitors can rest, relax and experience the Japanese lifestyle.
The innovative Japanese design can be seen in The Seasons’ space-maximizing fixtures such as the distinct shoe cabinet in the foyer, the kitchen floor storage, and spacious kitchen and bedroom cabinets. The kitchen sink will be fitted with accessories to make food preparation more convenient, while a below-floor drainage system in the bathroom will allow for easier pipe maintenance and water leakage protection.
In bigger units, a separate shower and bathtub highlight the Japanese tradition of “ofura” which means bath. Bathing is almost a sacred ritual in Japan that is believed to help ease physical stress and boost mental wellness. The units are likewise equipped with a range hood with Japanese oil-filter technology as well as air washing tiles that minimize excess humidity, unpleasant doors and harmful substances in the air.
An interesting feature is the toilet technology that The Season’ will have as it recently partnered with Toto to install special washlets in specific units for its first tower. These seats are equipped with powerful automated deodorizers as well as a soft closing seat with varied temperature settings. All these functions can be conveniently controlled via a wireless remote with an illuminated touch pad.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.