David Ng is the CEO of World Class Global, based in Singapore. He has a passion for property development and delivering high quality outcomes for World Class Global and its stakeholders. David has a love for Melbourne and studied at RMIT.
The Asian Executive is pleased to interview him for our special coverage of Australia 108.
TAE: At what point during the concept stage did you realise your company was going to build Australia’s tallest residential tower? How would you describe the pressure of having to meet public expectations of the prestige of that kind of expectation?
DN: When it came to developing a project in Melbourne – named the world’s most liveable city many times in a row – we felt that our project had to be bold in order to be worthy of its location. Striving to produce the highest residences in the Southern Hemisphere was a goal we set for ourselves from the early days and it is fantastic to see that we have now achieved it, having topped out the tower in recent months.
Striving to achieve such a vision brings with it a sense of pressure and expectation both from within and from the broader community. We are lucky to have fantastic partners such as Fender Katsalidis, Multiplex and Sinclair Brook as well as many others who have guided us along the way – it has been a wonderful collaboration to produce this outcome.
We are incredibly proud of how our experienced project team have risen to the challenge of delivering one of the most luxurious apartment offerings in the world.
TAE: What major lessons, do you think were learnt from this mammoth project in terms of handling the public or project marketing?
DN: When we launched in 2015 the response from the market was exceptionally strong. Australia 108 is truly unique, offering what we call a true cloud-breaking lifestyle high above Melbourne and enhanced by some of the best amenity in the country. Purchasers recognised this proposition and so the sales and marketing campaign was very successful from the outset. We have happy residents living in the building and we continue to attract a lot of interest from purchasers who wish to secure one of Australia 108’s final remaining apartments. In all, what we have learned is that a wonderful product will always attract great interest from the public – locally and internationally.
TAE: How does this project rate or come to be regarded in terms of the Group’s portfolio around the world?
DN: Australia 108 is certainly our most high profile project and we are exceptionally proud of it. It is the tallest building we have developed. It is very humbling to be able to deliver a building that has fast become an icon on the Melbourne skyline.
However, every new project our team at World Class Global embarks on holds a special place in our collective hearts.
We are equally as proud of every project in our global portfolio as they have all been imagined and developed in accordance with our values and our commitment to construction quality championing timeless design principles.
TAE: What is your favourite feature of Australia 108 and why?
DN: My favourite feature of Australia 108 is it’s golden cantilevering ‘Starburst’ which is located on levels 70 and 71 of the tower.
This architectural statement pays homage to the Commonwealth Star on the Australian flag and is filled with beautiful hotel-style amenity that includes two infinity pools, a gym, multiple dining areas, library and a sky garden. No building in Australia features the generosity of amenity that is contained in the Starburst – it is quite extraordinary.
Installing the Starburst in its position at 210-metres above sea level was a complex operation that required intricate and innovative construction techniques to permanently fix it in position on the building safely and securely.
This went off without a hitch and the end result is a truly spectacular and unique design feature which can be admired from inside and out.
“To finally see Australia 108 and Eureka Tower side-by-side on Melbourne’s skyline is a great, albeit humbling moment for our team. The strong, visually symbiotic relationship between the two neighbouring towers has now, after Eureka’s completion 15 years ago, been realised. The arrival of Australia 108 on Melbourne’s skyline is another defining moment for our city and of course one which we are extremely proud to have contributed to.”
Developer World Class Global only had one architectural firm in mind when considering a new architectural crown jewel for Melbourne’s elegant skyline – Fender Katsalidis. The elegant sapphire-like
Eureka Tower (Melbourne), Merdeka 118 (Kuala Lumpur), the world-acclaimed Museum of Old and New
Art (MONA in Hobart), Buxton Contemporary (Melbourne) and NewActon Precinct (Canberra) are only a handful of design gems that sing loudly of the class and distinction that Fender Katsalidis brings to its portfolio of timeless art.
TAE: What was your reaction of the person who bought the $25 million penthouse back in 2015? Was it a kind of vindication of the high-water mark of prices for penthouses in Australia?
DN: Selling the penthouse at Australia 108 in 2015 before we had even commenced the build was yet another joyous milestone for our entire project team. At the time it was the most expensive apartment ever sold in Australia. It was a true trophy buy to own the highest residence in the Southern Hemisphere – so we always knew it would command a spectacular price as there was nothing else like it on the market.
At the time I think it signalled that discerning purchasers saw great value in unique property in Australia, particularly Melbourne, and that still stands true today. Our upper level product still commands a very high price and throughout the life of the project we have had a number of buyers purchase multiple apartments to consolidate them into super-homes in the sky. People see the value in this building.
TAE: Can you give our readers a taste of future projects in Australia or other countries is the company now pursuing
DN: We have several sites in Queensland and also hold various land parcels in Penang, Malaysia. We are focused on expanding by securing sites in key growth areas throughout the Asia Pacific region where we see an appetite for aspirational, high quality homes and apartments. We see a lot of potential in Australia.
The Asian Executive (TAE) is pleased to interview Fender Katsalidis director Craig Baudin (CB) where he answers questions on Australia 108 and its reception in Melbourne.
Director, Fender Katsalidis
TAE: What were the client’s initial brief to you in terms of designing Australia’s tallest residential tower?
CB: World Class Global wanted to make a landmark statement for their first project in Melbourne, and one that brought new levels of resident amenity to high-rise living in Melbourne. They had a vision of a building that offered hotel-like facilities and a sense of glamour to apartment living.
TAE: What were the biggest technical hurdles that your team had to overcome during the planning and construction?
CB: Supertall buildings are always challenging, even under optimum conditions. With this Southbank location, the team had to deal with swampy soil conditions, on top of the usual challenges associated with building tall. Buildings like these push all aspects of the design to their limits, from fire engineering to vertical transport to structural design.
The design of the starburst, which in effect cantilevers the communal facilities at Level 71 a full 6m from the façade line, added to the constructability and structural challenges. We also located two swimming pools at the ends of these cantilevered spaces, increasing the complexity.
The building as a whole was quite technically challenging, with the starburst becoming almost a project of its own, which really stretched the entire design team and the builder.
TAE: What sense of satisfaction comes with being the lead designer of such a tower?
CB: The design of Australia 108 was the result of a remarkable team effort, with a number of our senior team working together to craft such a wonderful outcome. It has been a great privilege to be part of such an awesome design team. And after a 6-year journey with our client, it is enormously satisfying to see the project nearly completed among the skyline.
TAE: What were the core design concepts for the tower which were locked in from the beginning that were immutable?
CB: The client wanted the project to make its mark on Melbourne’s skyline. The concept of the starburst was there from the start as something which would distinguish this building from the stereotypical skyscraper form which has become standard.
However, the starburst did not always look the way it does now. It went through a number of design evolutions, but the idea of a sculptural element that erupts from the tower was always a key part of the design.
TAE: What have been the kinds of responses you have personally received from purchasers who have already moved into and are living in the building?
CB: So far, the feedback has been exceptionally positive. All the purchasers we have spoken with have been really excited at the prospect of living in this building. Many of them have extensively customised their apartments. It’s been great to meet a broad cross-section of people and working with them to get the best possible outcome for their new homes.