To many, Good Class Bungalows (GCB) are the crème de la crème of the Singapore property market. With an average price tag of $20 million to the highest transacted price of $230 million, it’s no wonder that these properties are reserved for affluent Singaporeans. These sprawling estates seem to be reserved for the wealthy and “Crazy Rich Asians”-esque type of lifestyle due to the exclusivity and extravagance in some of the building’s designs. We looked around and found some of the owners of these lucrative GCBs, and what their humble abodes look like. Read on to find out!
The exclusive factor of GCBs is that they are only considered GCBs if they meet URA building requirements and are in particular areas in Singapore. The Good Class Bungalow area was first mentioned in 1980 in the revised master plan by the then Ministry of National Development and this term is believed to be unique to Singapore. The creation of these areas was to protect the “high environment quality” of the larger bungalows from the intrusion of other intensive development. There are currently only 39 areas gazetted for GCB, with only 2,800 GCB land plots available. The scarcity and sheer size of each GCB makes it a status symbol for those in the upper echelons of society. This results in the constant demand for GCBs despite a low supply, allowing great capital appreciation for GCB owners.
Just to recap, URA stipulates that GCB developments in these areas must have:
There are also specific districts whereby Good Class Bungalows are situated in:
If you’re curious to what the interior of a GCB looks like, we went to one in District 10 previously and you can take a peek at the house tour below as well!
Who owns Good Class Bungalows?
Now let’s talk about some notable GCB owners who have made headlines for their jaw-dropping home purchases:
Owner: Mr Ong Tze Boon
Location: 1 Dalvey Estate
Mr Ong is an architect and the son of the late Singapore president Mr Ong Teng Cheong. This estate was built in 1927 and has been awarded the Architectural Heritage Award in 2001. The masterpiece by prominent British architect Frank Brewer contains all of his signature architectural characteristics of flared eaves, buttressed piers and oriel windows. Despite the colonial inspired exterior, the interior has been given a facelift to suit the modern lifestyle of the present, fusing both heritage and luxurious living in one.
The late Mr Ong Teng Cheong, Tze Boon’s father, who was an architect as well, conducted A&A to restore the full glory of the bungalow in its colonial splendour by his practice Ong & Ong. This resulted in its current state, a sensitively restored bungalow that retains its character and charm. Should you pass by the estate you can even catch a glimpse of the old guardhouse outside at the home.
Owner: Mr Robert Kwan
Location: King Albert Park House
Mr Kwan actually founded Macdonald’s Singapore, and his home was built in 1994 with the help of Tay Kheng Soon, a Singaporean architect. Despite not having any public images of his house available online, his home has been praised to be well-designed for blending in nature and living – sporting a water garden, wide eaves and living spaces that allow great air circulation in his home due to it’s open concept nature.
Owner: Sir James Dyson
Location: 50 Cluny Road
Price: $50 million
The brand Dyson is no stranger to the appliances industry, with its revolutionary hair dryers and vacuums taking the world by storm. Sir James Dyson is the brains behind this innovative brand, and we can see him take his creative reins through his current residence on Cluny Road. Sir James Dyson made waves for his purchase of a three-storey penthouse at Wallich Residences, which he sold and currently dwells in his second property purchase – his current GCB.
This bungalow looks like a treehouse from ground level, perfectly intertwined with the surrounding trees. The 15,099 sq ft open concept bungalow perfectly allows natural sunlight to flood the interior with warmth. Continuing with the nature-infused residence, there are several water features punctuating the home, such as his own personal waterfall and curved infinity pool (MBS who?) Despite being a PR, Sir Dyson is allowed to purchase this GCB as he has made exceptional economic contributions to our country, and is using it for his own residence.
Owner: Jin Xiao Qun
Location: Nassim Road
Price: $128.8 million
Ms Jin Xiao Qun is the wife of Shi Xu, the founder and executive chairman of Nanofilm Technologies International. Her purchase set her back a whopping $128.8 million for the 32,159 sq ft plot (the size of 33 four room HDB apartments). She bought the property from previous owner businesswoman Oei Siu Hoa, also known as Sukmawati Widjaja.
The property is known as the Ladyvale Bungalow which was built in 1964, and is reported to not be in move-in condition at the time of purchase, with necessary renovation works needed should the couple want to use it for their residence. This purchase is the priciest single-home sale of 2021 and beats Sir James Dyson’s home’s price per foot record at $4,005 psf. The affluent couple became billionaires overnight following their company’s successful listing on the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange.
Owner: Tsai Family
Location: 81 Dalvey Road
Price: $93.9 million
This GCB was first owned by Mr Lim Kim San who was the first chairman of HDB and pioneered the public housing development that majority of Singaporeans call home today. In 2018, this 52,054 sq ft home was sold for $93.9 million to a Singaporean member of the Tsai family in Taiwan, making the cost around $1,804 psf. The head of the family, Mr Tsai Wan-Lin, was Taiwan’s richest person at the time of his passing with a wealth of $6.36 billion SGD. According to Forbes, the family’s wealth comes from the business in Cathay Financial Holdings, which was founded by Mr Tsai Wan-Lin and is currently led by his son Hong-Tu. Mr Tsai Wan-Lin’s brother, Mr Tsai Wan-Tsai, founded Fubon Financial and his two sons now helm the company.
Owner: Family of Lim Kee Ming
Location: 65 Bintong Park
Price: $48 million
Not much is known about the property other than it was sold by a Singaporean couple who first purchased the house for $15 million. The couple later invested another $10 million into redeveloping the house into a modern facade. The property was purchased for $48 million by the family of the late Lim Kee Ming, who once served as president of the Ngee Ann Kongsi.
Owner: Kuok Hui Kwong
Location: 82 Belmont Road
Price: $43.5 million
This cul de sac GCB was purchased by Kuok Hui Kwong, chairman of Shangri-La Asia and daughter of the Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok. Although Ms Kuok is a PR, she was granted permission to purchase the 30,408 sq ft property. No photos of the property are available as the house seems to be hidden way behind it’s gated entrance, ensuring privacy for the family away from prying eyes.
Owner: Zhang Hanzhi
Location: Gallop Road
Price: $42 million
Son of hotpot chain HaiDiLao’s founder Mr Zhang Hanzhi was given the option to purchase the Gallop Road GCB at $42 million, reportedly located near his father’s property. His father, Mr Zhang Yong’s current bungalow was purchased for $27 million in 2016 after he obtained his Singaporean citizenship. This 21,649 sq ft GCB is also known as The Winged House due to the architecture of the house looking akin to two wings. The $1,940 psf transaction is noted to be a record price psf for the Gallop Road area as well.
Owner: Ian Ang
Location: 27 Olive Road
Price: $36 million
Gaming chair tycoon Ian Ang, founder of Secret Lab, went on a property spree and purchased a GCB in the Caldecott Hill Estate and a penthouse in Leedon Residences in a week this month. But make no mistake, the 28-year old actually scoured the property market for two years before firming his decision to purchase the homes according to his broker. The freehold plot avails Mr Ang 23,424 sq ft of space accompanied with a sloping terrain, allowing him a unblocked view of the city and Marina Bay Sands in the distance. His $51 million purchase for both homes may be a huge sum to many, but with a company valued at $2 billion, we reckon that Mr Ang deserves to treat himself.
The top 5% of the country are truly in another league of their own. For the generic working class Singaporean adult, we wouldn’t dare to dream of even owning such a magnificent home. For some of these homeowners, they may own other properties in Singapore and abroad, due to the diversity of their investment portfolio and real estate being a prime source of investment as well.
But with that said, a home is what you make of it and people who are in it; just that the walls of these homes could claim many other stories to tell.
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