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PLP expands Asian footprint, embarks on Tokyo’s largest urban renewal project

·6-min read

Artist’s impression of the completed Uchisaiwaicho 1-Chome district redevelopment (Picture: Nikken Sekkei(

SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - London-based architectural firm PLP Architecture achieved a milestone last year when its maiden project in Singapore, the luxury condo Park Nova by Hong Kong-listed real estate group Shun Tak Holdings, achieved a new high of $5,838 psf for its biggest penthouse. The 5,899 sq ft, five-bedroom duplex penthouse fetched $34.438 million on the first day of launch in May last year. To date, 37 units have been sold at an average price of $4,969 psf, based on caveats lodged.

See also: A year of outsized deals, where super penthouses commanded the highest prices

Park Nova and the 14-unit ultraluxury condo Les Maisons Nassim, which also previewed a year ago, marked Shun Tak Holdings’ first residential projects in Singapore. Shun Tak had purchased the Park Nova site (former Park House) in June 2018 for $375.5 million, or a record price of $2,910 psf per plot ratio for an en bloc sale. The record remains unbroken to date. (See potential condos with en bloc calculator)

Having established itself as a trailblazer in both luxury and sustainability, PLP is in the process of opening an office in Singapore. This will be its third office in Asia; it set up a representative office in Beijing in 2010, followed by an office in Tokyo in 2017.

Founded in 2009, PLP has been building its presence in the region and beyond, taking on projects such as Cohl Business Centre, a 1.2 million sq ft office and retail complex in Hangzhou, China; and the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences in Abu Dhabi. Most recently, it was appointed master designer and placemaking strategist for one of Japan’s largest post-war urban renewal projects — the redevelopment of Tokyo’s Uchisaiwaicho 1-Chome district.

“We are deeply honoured to be part of this exciting enterprise,” commented Lee Polisano, president and founding partner of PLP, in a press statement at the end of March. “Everything that PLP embodies was brought to bear on this project.”

Tokyo’s biggest urban transformation project

Located in the Chiyoda ward, Uchisaiwaicho 1-Chome serves as a prime business district, housing the headquarters of Japan-listed companies Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) as well as the Tokyo Electric Power Co. It is also home to the Imperial Hotel, a cultural landmark that has hosted Japan’s foreign dignitaries since the 1890s.

PLP will oversee the redevelopment of a 699,654 sq ft site where a new mixed-use project will be constructed. Comprising four towers, a 31m-tall podium and a public plaza, the development will encompass a total floor area of some 11.8 million sq ft upon completion, integrating a mix of offices, commercial facilities, hotels and residential units. As part of the redevelopment, the Imperial Hotel will be rebuilt, while pedestrian bridges will be constructed to connect the site to Hibiya Park, a 40-acre (16.2ha) public park adjacent to the district.

The first phase of the project, slated for completion by 2030, is expected to cost around US$3 billion ($4.2 billion). Besides masterplanning the project, PLP is the architect for two of the four mixed-use towers within the development. Full completion of the project is anticipated in 2037.

Polisano acknowledges that the project is an ambitious one, involving 10 owner-stakeholders made of up some of Japan’s most prominent companies including NTT, real estate company Mitsui Fudosan, and financial service company Tokyo Century Corp. “Our work was to distil the desires and strengths of those 10 different owners and bring them all together in different ways,” he shared at a media presentation in Singapore on March 28.

Polisano: Everything that PLP embodies was brought to bear on [the Uchisaiwaicho 1-Chome] project (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)

Working with the various stakeholders, PLP crafted a vision for Uchisaiwaicho 1-Chome anchored on a humancentric approach that emphasises well-being, sociability and a connection with nature. Sustainability also plays a huge component, with the project aiming to achieve carbon neutrality — net-zero carbon dioxide emissions — by 2030. Polisano says the goal of PLP’s masterplan is to make the district carbon-negative in the longer term.

Multi-disciplinary approach

Polisano views the Uchisaiwaicho 1-Chome project as a great example of the multi-disciplinary approach the firm upholds, ranging from architecture and urban planning to research and strategy. “We’re not a straightforward typical architectural practice, we’re more of a [one-stop-shop] for a variety of creative services with a strong emphasis on research,” he explains. The firm has a dedicated research arm, PLP Labs, which undertakes research projects relating to the built environment.

Having this end-to-end approach helps inform PLP’s work across Asia, which Polisano says is quite diverse. Besides Japan, it has ongoing projects in China, including masterplanning and providing the architectural design for The Nexus, a mixed-use complex in China’s Pearl River Delta that will incorporate a 124- storey, 600m-tall office and hotel tower.

The firm also has projects in South Korea, which Polisano says is focused more on strategy and consulting services. “We’re working with large Korean tech companies on smart city projects and cities for the future,” he says. It also provides product design consulting services on consumer products such as smartphones, he adds.

Singapore as a new base

In Singapore, PLP is currently focused on the delivery of Park Nova, which is slated for completion next year, as well as the opening of the new office. It also has a second project on the horizon — a mixed-use development that is currently in the R&D phase, according to Polisano.

Park Nova, PLP’s debut project in Singapore, is slated for completion next year (Photo: Shun Tak Holdings)

Tina Qiu, PLP’s director who is leading the firm’s activities in the city-state, shares that while the decision to open an office in Singapore was originally conceived to help oversee the Park Nova project, the firm soon realised an office here could help provide a strategic base for servicing clients. “We see the Singapore office working side-by-side with our Tokyo office to help our clients in Asia,” she says.

Polisano adds that the availability of talent also played a part in the firm’s decision. “We need to be where we can get good, talented and creative people; and we think Singapore is a place where we can do that,” he says.

Ultimately, Polisano hopes the new office will continue to help the firm find interesting projects that are a good fit for PLP’s approach and expertise. “The intention of setting up here isn’t to compete with large Asian companies,” he says. “We’re interested in projects that suit us.”

Check out the latest listings near Park Nova, Les Maisons Nassim

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