Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

July 24, 2008

Let expat schools expand into vacant properties

Filed under: Education,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:11 am

I REFER to Monday’s article, ‘Expat schools make room for growing population’.

I suggest the affected schools use existing vacant schools as a temporary measure. One such school is the former Westlake Secondary School in Braddell Hill. It looks in relatively good condition with several buildings to house classes, lots of space and a reasonably good field. I am sure with a little creativity and resourcefulness, the school could be turned into a functional school.It is such a waste to see buildings like this. I am sure there are many other such schools in other parts of Singapore, not used efficiently and left to decay in land-scarce Singapore.

Source : Straits Times – 11 Jun 2008

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One North: An ecosystem of learning

Filed under: Education,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:35 am

Lessons at one-north include the study of literature, how to build a digital game and cookery classes

IT’S a place where you can study Confucius and Shakespeare, learn how to build a digital game for the Wii, probe the human gene or whip up a Mexican meal – whichever takes your fancy.

one-north, a fast-developing area that wants to be known as Singapore’s ‘icon of the knowledge economy’, is teeming with schools and institutions of learning.


Learning centre: (Left) The Pixel building boasts a funky grey, black and white harlequin-patterned exterior; NTU@one-north houses the Centre for Continuing Education, the Confucius Institute and an alumni clubhouse; aspiring future game developers admiring works of art by DigiPen students

The list includes well-known names in both local and international education – the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) one-north campus, Insead, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Singapore Polytechnic, United World College, Tanglin Trust School, the Anglo-Chinese School and Junior College and the Japanese Primary School.

Not forgetting the various institutes in genomics, molecular biology and nanotechnology that are housed in giant research centre Biopolis, as well as much smaller outfits that focus on creative pursuits such as drama and cuisine.

‘The location at one-north provides an ideal setting for students, staff and visitors to learn, work and unwind alongside scientists, researchers, technopreneurs and business people from all over the world,’ said a spokesperson for NTU.

The Jurong-based university last year opened NTU@one-north, which houses educational facilities such as the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) and the Confucius Institute, as well as a 10-level alumni clubhouse.

The CCE offers executive programmes and online courses for participants in Singapore and abroad. The Confucius Institute, a collaboration with Shandong University and the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), teaches Chinese and runs courses on Chinese culture.

Different cup of tea

Offering a rather different cup of cha is DigiPen Institute of Technology, which from September will offer two degrees in Singapore – a Bachelor of Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production Animation.

The first degree focuses on the technology behind the development of video games, including the development of game engines, graphics, physics, artificial intelligence and networking. The second degree aims to prepare students to produce 2D and 3D art for animation industries such as feature films and video games.

The institute is housed in Pixel, a funky grey, black and white harlequin-patterned building at Central Exchange Green, a grassy area in one-north. Jason Chu, chief operating officer for DigiPen, said that the atmosphere there is ‘dynamic, exciting and desirable’.

‘DigiPen’s programmes are exciting and challenging and students need an environment where they can focus and concentrate their efforts in studying,’ he said. ‘The location in Pixel is serene and provides an ideal learning environment.’

DigiPen actually started life in 1988 as Digipen Corporation, a computer simulation and animation company in Canada. In 1998, DigiPen Institute of Technology was created in the US, and its American alumni includes Kim Swift, who ranked seventh in a recent list of the top 25 most influential people in the digital gaming industry. She helped to develop the Portal game for Valve Corporation, which won Best Game of the Year award in 2008.

Mr Chu said that one of the reasons why DigiPen decided to open its first-ever branch campus in Singapore was ‘the dedication and support of the Singapore government towards the development of the interactive digital media industry (IDM)’. Singapore also has ‘the potential of becoming the centre for the IDM industry, due to its strategic location in South-east Asia’, he said.

For Narayan Pant, the dean of executive education at Insead, the nation’s cosmopolitan nature was also a draw for the world-famous business school, which also has campuses in Fontainebleau and Abu Dhabi. ‘Singapore is a cosmopolitan culture and this is a reflection of our own cosmopolitan roots,’ he said. ‘We get students, teachers and participants from all over the world. It’s not only about bringing the class to the world, but about bringing the world to the class.’

Insead’s campus at one-north opened in 2000, and the school had initially planned its next step of expansion for 2008. ‘Instead, our next stage of growth was in 2005, when we had to make a 50 per cent expansion in space,’ said Prof Pant.

The business school’s proximity to other institutions of learning and research is another plus point. ‘In education, you don’t work alone,’ he said. ‘You work in an ecosystem. It’s about being near a library, the NUS, the NTU. And every new development, such as at Rochester Park or Fusionopolis, adds to the ecosystem. From that perspective, one-north is a great place to be.’

Another school which a multi-national flavour, this time literally, is Palate Sensations. The school, situated in a black-and-white colonial building at the Wessex Estate, offers lessons in French, Italian and Mexican cuisine, as well as courses for cocktails and pastry.

‘We like to work some of our courses around a theme, like a movie,’ said managing director and owner Lynette Foo. ‘We have Mexican cooking classes built around Like Water for Chocolate, and French classes around the movies Ratatouille and Chocolat.’

A few blocks away, also in the Wessex Estate within one-north, is the Centre Stage School of the Arts, which teaches drama to children. On any given day, crowds of kids can be seen entering or leaving the school, chattering excitedly and getting ready to enact scenes from Roald Dahl’s The Twits or Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The school accepts participants as young as six months, when babies start to learn the basics of interaction, to as old as 17 years. It also has a few adult classes. ‘Theatre’s so important, it’s not only about acting, but about poise, expression, listening and language,’ said artistic director Peter Hodgson, who has a bachelor of arts in theatre as well as teaching and acting diplomas.

‘More and more, the corporate world is also tending to hire people with an arts background,’ added Mr Hodgson, who started the school with his wife, Alison Tompkins.

Centre Stage used to be located in the River Valley area, but Mr Hodgson said that Wessex Estate, in the green enclave of one-north, is more conducive to learning drama. ‘The advantage here is that we have a beautiful, calm environment,’ he said. ‘It’s more helpful to what we do.’

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Expat schools make room for growing population

Filed under: Education,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:12 am

Aussie school’s $45m extension is latest; long waiting lists at popular ones

THE Australian International School’s new campus extension in Lorong Chuan makes it the latest among international schools here to address the issue of the squeeze on places.

The $45 million junior school complex is a self-contained one on the school’s existing campus.

The fact that it needed this add-on facility points to the booming expatriate population here: many international schools are full, and popular ones have long waiting lists.

All eight schools contacted have either expanded or will do so in the next few years.

The number of expatriates here went up nearly 10 per cent in just one year, from 798,000 in 2005 to 875,500 in 2006, going by latest available figures.

The demand for places in international schools is expected to grow. A survey done by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) among its member companies last year found that a third – or 22 out of 68 – would be expanding their expatriate headcounts here by about 200 within the next three years.

These employees have about 300 children who will need places in international schools here.

The employees of the companies surveyed had among them 24 children who were on waiting lists.

AmCham has set up a committee to give its member companies better access to these waiting lists, and to work with various agencies to help schools gauge their expansion needs more accurately.

AmCham chairman Steve Okun, noting that many AmCham member companies have been unable to move key employees here because these employees’ children do not have places in their selected schools, said: ‘With most international schools at their admissions’ saturation, the situation is only worsening.’

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently counted the squeeze on places in international schools as a ‘constraint’ here, and said the Government had stepped in to ease the shortage by helping these schools to expand.

The director for education and professional services at the Economic Development Board (EDB), Mr Toh Wee Khiang, said that EDB was facilitating the expansion of the German European School and the United World College’s second campus.

It is also trying to interest top-quality institutions in setting up pre-tertiary schools here, he added.

But at least one school principal thinks the support given is insufficient.

He complained: ‘The EDB is attracting many companies here, but it is helping only some schools with expansion. Not enough is being done for many others. We are pretty much left on our own.’

The Australian International School happens to have room to expand on its existing campus.

Its new block has 40 classrooms for 800 pupils, a cafeteria, music and art rooms, a children’s library, more outdoor eating and play areas and an underground carpark.

The school’s population, now at 1,860, is expected to climb to above 2,100 next month.

Together with its other campus just next door, the school will be able to accommodate 2,500 students – and hold off having a waiting list for 18 months, said its director for marketing and enrolments Kim Douglas.

The school expects to have a waiting list again from 2010.

Its principal, Mr Peter Bond, said: ‘With many schools facing a similar situation as us, families want to know there’s a space for their children before bringing them here.’

He said he expected ‘no respite in the short term’.

The state of schools:

Australian International School
Where: Lorong Chuan
No. of students: 1,860
Age range: Three to 18 years
Annual fees: $21,088 to $26,979
Waiting list: None
Issue it is facing: The opening of the new junior school will stave off the waiting-list problem for only 18 months.

German European School
Where: Bukit Tinggi Road
No. of students: 1,075
Age range: 18 months to 18 years
Annual fees: $19,100 to $23,500
Waiting list: None
Issue it is facing: The school is covered for the next three years, but is still on the lookout for a campus nearer the current one.

Tanglin Trust School
Where: 95, Portsdown Road
No. of students: 2,250
Age range: Three to 18 years
Annual fees: $20,000 to $25,000
Waiting list: One to two years
Issue it is facing: The expansion planned in the senior school will increase the school’s total intake to close to 3,000 in five years.

Lycee Francais de Singapour (French School of Singapore)
Where: Ang Mo Kio Ave 3
No. of students: 1,390
Age range: Two to 18 years
Annual fees: $11,000 to $21,500
Waiting list: 50 children
Issue it is facing: To create 26 more classrooms, the school will demolish and rebuild the kindergarten block. This will allow the school to take in 2,000 students by 2011.

DPS International School
Where: 36 Aroozoo Avenue
No. of students: 250
Age range: Four to 17 years
Waiting list: Three months
Annual fees: $4,200 to $5,700
Issue it is facing: Open since 2004, the school is planning to set up another branch soon.

NPS International School
Where: 10 & 12 Chai Chee Lane
No. of students: 212 as at May 2008
Age range: Four to 15 years
Waiting list: None for now.
Annual fees: $7,800 to $11,400
Issue it is facing: Plans to expand but may not be soon.

United World College Southeast Asia
Where: Dover and Ang Mo Kio (Holding campus)
No. of students: 2,900
Age range: Four to 18 years
Waiting list: Nine months
Annual fees: $19,485 to $24,315
Issue it is facing: The school’s long waiting list gave it the push to set up a second campus in Tampines by 2010.

Source : Straits Times – 9 Jun 2008

June 24, 2008

One-North: A place for a meeting of minds

Filed under: Education,General,Genius Thoughts,Property Add Value — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:57 am

one-north, encompassing Biopolis and Fusionopolis, is Singapore’s icon of the knowledge economy

THERE I was, standing in the middle of a gleaming complex of buildings, with blocks bearing names like Chromos, Proteos, Genome and Matrix. I was, of course, at Biopolis, conceived to put Singapore on the global map of the biomedical sciences industry. Biopolis itself is only one part of a vast development called one-north that is emerging around the Buona Vista area.


Brain space: Biopolis (left) was conceived to put Singapore on the global map of the biomedical sciences industry; global pharmaceuticals corporation Novartis houses its Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases at Chromos. The institute ‘is dedicated to discovering treatments for diseases of the developing world, including tuberculosis, malaria and dengue fever’, says its chairman Paul Herrling

ha area is ‘Singapore’s icon of the knowledge economy’, according to the one-north website. It encompasses Biopolis and Fusionopolis, a sprawling area dedicated to the media and information businesses.

In its widest interpretation, one-north includes Rochester Park, Insead business school and one campus of the Nanyang Technological University. Clearly, it is planned to be a kind of ‘brain space’ and creative nerve for Singapore.

But does the talent really like working here? I approached a man and a woman chatting to each other and posed them that question.

The woman’s answer was emphatic. ‘Yes, it’s convenient. It’s got everything – there are restaurants, cafes, shops. There’s a shared system among all the corporations here, to take care of all our grocery and other needs.’ They declined to give their names but said that they work at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

And for those who think that the location is somewhat out of the way, there is the view of Edison Liu, executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). one-north is practically ‘in the middle of the city’, he said, speaking to BT in a phone interview as he was travelling in the US.

‘We are only some 20 minutes from all the major hospitals and universities. It’s not like some other research centres, where you’re stuck in the outskirts of suburbia.’

GIS is the national flagship programme for genomic sciences, and occupies – of course – the Genome block at Biopolis.

‘Of course I’m biased, but we are always counted among the top 10 genome centres in the world,’ said Prof Liu. ‘Within a 25-hundred-mile radius in Asia, there is no centre with better firepower than us.’ He said that the institute has made its mark in the areas of stem cell genomics, systems pharmacology (which is research related to cancer) and genomic technology.

Slightly more than half of GIS staff is of foreign origin, said Prof Liu, who himself is from the US but is now a Singapore permanent resident. In that sense, the institute shares the international flavour of other big research institutes.

As I walked along the paved streets of Biopolis, it seemed to me that the place, barring the occasional person in a business suit, has the feel of a large university. There is a big food court for the more budget-minded, but also espresso pit-stops and several restaurants.

These eateries are not only great places to grab a meal, but also to swap ideas and contacts, according to Paul Chapman of GlaxoSmithKline. He is head of GSK’s Centre for Research in Cognitive and Neurodegenerative Disorders.

‘While it is certainly possible to have this kind of interaction if you are located on a separate campus, there is no substitute for bumping into someone at the food court or the cafe,’ he said. ‘Those casual interactions, where people get to know each other and then discover their mutual scientific interests, just happen more easily at a place like Biopolis.’

Opportunity for study

Novartis, another global pharmaceuticals corporation, houses its Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) at Chromos.

The institute ‘is dedicated to discovering treatments for the diseases of the developing world, including tuberculosis, malaria and dengue fever’, said Paul Herrling, NITD’s head of corporate research and chairman.

‘Biopolis’s location in Singapore, a place where dengue is endemic, gives researchers the opportunity to study first-hand the epidemiology of the disease, and enables access to affected patients.’

one-north is not entirely about the medical and biotech sectors. Swissnex Singapore describes itself as a platform of the Swiss Embassy, ‘facilitating knowledge and competencies’ in science, education, art and innovation between Switzerland, Singapore and South-east Asia.

‘Being at Biopolis brings us closer to the stakeholder,’ said executive director Suzanne Hraba-Renevey. ‘We are more visible and accessible to our users and have easy access to our partners from academia, research, government and business.’

The entire Biopolis project itself is yet to be completed, and consists of several phases. Across the road looms Fusionopolis 1, comprising 24 floors, two towers and 120,000 square metres of floor area.

The building, which represents phase one of the Fusionopolis project, is dedicated to infocomms, or media-related firms that use the latest in technology. It is equipped with satellite access and the necessary power and bandwith for intensive computer use. There are also service apartments, a roof-top swimming pool and a performance theatre.

Fusionopolis 1 has just opened its doors to tenants, and Asian Food Channel was the first to make it its home. When I visited the premises of the cable-and-satellite channel on the 12th floor, there were still boxes to be unpacked and everything was spanking new.

‘We think three to five years ahead,’ said managing director Hian Goh. ‘In 12 months’ time, there’s going to be an MRT at the bottom of this building. There will be a Cold Storage and shops. There’s a sky garden – it’s beautiful.’

The new office is bright, airy and full of glass partitions. There is a room at the rear to be turned into a kitchen-cum-studio.

‘That’s where we’ll have people like Gordon Ramsay doing his shows,’ said Maria Brown, managing director of acquisitions and programming. ‘We’ll also be able to invite people over.’

I imagined the celebrity chef, brow furrowing, expletives flying, sticking a knife in a roasted carcass and calling it done.

‘Please invite me,’ I said.

Source : Business Times – 27 May 2008

June 19, 2008

Central: More hotels

Filed under: Commercial,Education,General,Hospital,Hotel — Propertymarketupdates @ 5:52 am

LIVE

·  130,900 new homes, in towns such as Toa Payoh, Queenstown, Bukit Merah and Boon Keng, as well as at Kallang Riverside, Tanjong Rhu, Singapore River and Sentosa

WORK

·  Extension of the Central Business District at Marina Bay and along Beach Road/Ophir-Rochor Road

·  New offices at Paya Lebar Central

·  Further development of office and business parks at one-north

PLAY

·  New hotels at Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar, Singapore River, Kampong Glam, Little India, Farrer Park, Paya Lebar, Kallang Riverside, Balestier and Sentosa

·  Sports Hub at Kallang will have a National Stadium, aquatic and water leisure centre, multi-purpose indoor arena, sports library and museum

·  New park connectors and Labrador boardwalk linking Southern Ridges to VivoCity, HarbourFront and Southern Waterfront

·  New events at Singapore River

Source : Straits Times – 24 May 2008

West: More greenery

Filed under: Commercial,Education,General,Hospital,Hotel — Propertymarketupdates @ 5:50 am

LIVE

·  46,000 new homes near MRT stations, parks and waterbodies, such as at Jurong East, Jurong West, Hillview and Choa Chu Kang

·  A new general hospital in the Jurong Lake District by 2015

·  A shopping mall with a library and bus interchange at Clementi town centre

·  New campuses for the Canadian International School and River Valley High School in Jurong West by next year and 2015, respectively

·  Third Institute of Technical Education regional campus in 2010

WORK

·  2,500ha of land set aside in Jurong and Tuas for industrial uses

·  750,000 sq m of commercial space for offices, shops and restaurants in Jurong Gateway

TRAVEL

·  The East-West MRT line will be extended west

·  The Downtown Line 2 will connect parts of the region to the city centre

PLAY

·  Jurong Lake District will have edutainment attractions, dining and lifestyle destinations and a new park by the lake

·  World-class Science Centre next to Chinese Garden MRT Station

·  Interpretative Centre and boardwalk at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

·  Boardwalks and boating activities at Jurong Lake and Pandan Reservoir

·  Singapore’s first motocross venue at Tuas

·  More parks and park connectors

Source : Straits Times – 24 May 2008

May 9, 2008

Queen Margaret University starts classes in Singapore

Filed under: Commercial,Education,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:26 am

It is the latest addition to the global schoolhouse initiative

THIS morning was a landmark occasion for Scotland’s renowned Queen Margaret University (QMU), as students began classes for the first time at its Asia campus in Singapore – the first full-fledged overseas site by a British institution to open in Singapore.


Landmark: QMU’s Asia campus is the first full-fledged overseas site by a British institution to open in Singapore

The 133-year-old QMU’s presence, the latest addition to the Republic’s global schoolhouse initiative, is a significant one, and comes three years after another UK university, Warwick, abandoned plans to operate a campus here, citing concerns over academic freedom and possible research restrictions, among other issues.

Just last year, QMU was accorded full university status, which resulted in it dropping the word ‘College’ from its name and confirming its status as a university-level institution.

Home to QMU’s Asia campus is a serene, 18,000 sq m site nestled in the heartlands at Ah Hood Road, off Balestier Road. QMU’s lease for the land will see it pay $38 million in rent over the next 15 years.

The new four-storey campus, the result of a joint venture between the Edinburgh-based QMU and its Singapore partner – the East Asia Institute of Management – is just the latest success story coming out of a seven-year-long working relationship for both parties.

Richard Kerley, the pro vice-chancellor of QMU (International) said the realisation of the Asia campus was down to ‘the mutual trust, respect and confidence between the two institutions, built up over years’.

On how QMU plans to set itself apart from the other private universities in Singapore, given that competition for the student dollar is already so intense, Prof Kerley told The Business Times: ‘We have, arguably, the most multi-national student population, with about 70 per cent of them coming from China, India, Vietnam and some 15 other countries from the Asia-Pacific region. Students from Singapore, in particular, benefit greatly when they study on our campus, with its rich, multi-cultural environment.’

QMU, which was recently named one of the top 10 modern universities in the UK’s Sunday Times Good University Guide, eventually hopes to see up to 6,000 students enrolled in the Singapore campus. They can have their pick of a variety of business management degrees, as well as courses in banking and finance.

The flagship programme is its hospitality and tourism degree – an ideal one given that the demand for such graduates is soaring thanks to a boom in the tourism and services industry in Singapore and the region.

The stand-out offering that Prof Kerley is banking on to seal QMU’s status as a major player is the bilingual degree programme in business and management-related fields.

Other courses in the pipeline include a Bachelor of Nursing, and specialist degrees in health science areas such as occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Source : Business Times – 5 May 2008

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