How did this luxury development in Taipei attract so many ‘starchitects’?

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Five of the worlds most celebrated architects head to Taiwan to create The Master Collection

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If one is to bulldoze an area of natural beauty, it had better be worth it.

Perhaps that’s what Phoenix Property Investors were thinking when they conceived The Master Collection – a series of 28 luxurious houses, each with its own private pool and expertly landscaped garden nestled in the lush green hills outside the prestigious Great Taipei New Town district.

Five of the world’s most prominent architects are on board for the project.

The architects in question – Jim Olson, Richard Meier, Annabelle Selldorf, Steven Harris and Calvin Tsao, all have a place in Architectural Digest’s 2016 list of top 100 design influencers.

More: See how landscape architecture is shaping developments all over Asia

The Master Collection is divided into two developments – Jim Olson Houses (which are recently finished) and PREMIA. The latter (aerial view pictured above) is designed by the remaining four architects and will be completed by 2018.

Over the next five weeks we will be featuring an interview with each of these “starchitects” finding out what makes them tick, why they chose to get involved in the project, what they think of Asian architecture and more.

Every Wednesday (starting tomorrow with Jim Olson) we will be publishing another exclusive interview with The Master Collection architects.

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To whet your appetite for the series, we spoke with Samuel Chua, founding partner of Phoenix Property Investors, to find out how they managed to pin down five such big names to be involved.

How were the architects chosen for the project?

We knew we were proposing to design and build in an area of exceptional beauty, with an outlook and view from each house which is truly unprecedented. Any houses built in such a location had to be worthy of their settings; they had to seamlessly balance the requirements of exclusivity, luxury, privacy and security for potential buyers.

The five architects commissioned are not only renowned craftsmen and women in their own right, who have a substantial body of admired, groundbreaking work to their names, but they are also famous for their absolute integrity of purpose and a wonderful ability to work closely and positively with their clients.

More: Inside starchitect Chad Oppenheim’s Miami hideout

How did you get so many big names to commit?

Samuel Chu
Samuel Chu

There are no great buildings in the world that are not the result of a close working dialogue between the client and architect. It is in this mutual admiration and respect, along with the marshalling skills of Calvin Tsao, who himself had worked with us on other residential projects – Lumiere (Taipei) and 18 Junction Road (Hong Kong) – and who knew personally the other architects, that the very rare collaboration of a notable team of New York architects worked so successfully.

With such different design styles, how will they complement one another?

All of the architects created designs that address the vertiginous site with their respective styles. Meanwhile, Calvin Tsao (Tsao & McKown), who understands different individual style of the rest of the architects, came up with the master plan of the project.

Why did you settle on Taipei for such a significant project?

Taipei is an emerging market for foreign direct investment, and it is particularly popular for the high quality of living, and relatively slower pace (compared to Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo). We also believe that Taipei’s unique culture and established infrastructure make it a viable candidate in the “up and coming” category for property investment. The stability of the Taiwanese currency also contributes to a healthy environment for property investment.

What is the typical profile of the investors – are they Taiwanese or foreigners?

The success of our previous House Living project located in the same area, Beaumont, proves that demand is strong for well-designed, high quality homes. Beaumont project attracted sophisticated buyers from Hong Kong including repeated clients of Phoenix, a CEO of a listed company in Hong Kong, and CEO of a Property Agency Company. We believe The Master Collection will appeal to the same type of seasoned buyers from both Taiwan and overseas.

The main appeal for overseas buyers to invest in The Master Collection includes its freehold status and low buy-in tax rate of around 0.1% of the property price.

Hong Kong investors, in particular, are very receptive to the idea of investing in a holiday home in Taipei due to its slower paced lifestyle and vibrant local culture. The one-hour flight time makes Taipei easily accessible. Also, there is no language barrier for Hong Kongers.

This series is now complete! Be sure not to miss our exclusive interviews with the five architects:

Jim Olson
Annabelle Selldorf
Richard Meier
Steven Harris

Calvin Tsao

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