Luxury housing projects up the ante with high art, spas, palatial architecture

The definition of luxuring is evolving, developers say, as buyers expect not just branding and exclusivity, but the luxe experience.

Updated: Jul 07, 2018 18:54:33

By Krutika Behrawala

Picasso’s 1937 painting, La Plage, Juan-les-Pins (The Beach at Juan-les-Pins), in the tea room at Lodha Altamount.

A tea room with a Picasso on the wall, palace-themed lobbies and Japanese Zen gardens are taking the place of swimming pools and sports facilities when it comes to luxury value-additions in real-estate.

“The definition of a luxury project has evolved over the past five years,” says Shveta Jain, managing director for real estate private wealth services at realty consultancy Cushman & Wakefield. “A pool, gym and sports facilities are now considered basics. If a builder wants to differentiate his project from the rest, niche USPs like art, architecture, even clubs and high-end spa are essential.”

Lodha Altamount is currently at the top of this game, having installed the 1937 Picasso, La Plage, Juan-les-Pins (The Beach at Juan-les-Pins) in the elegant tea room where residents can catch up, read or meet friends. The work was purchased in September through British auction house Christie’s, for an undisclosed sum, and took 18 months to make its way to India.

“The intersection of luxury real-estate and fine art is clear and essential, as the buyers of one tend to be the buyers of the other,” says Arvind Subramanian, regional CEO with the Lodha Group. “A celebrated artwork not only adds to the sense of opulence of the property but also acts as a status symbol that appeals to this demographic. The meaning of luxury has evolved from a price tag to entailing elements that are extension of a personality.”

Artists Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra were commissioned to create the artwork that now sits along the staircase of the Piramal Group’s Aranya project in Byculla.

Elsewhere, luxury projects are commissioning art for their lobbies and shared spaces, for the same reasons.

“Today’s luxury buyer is well-travelled and exposed to the global art scene,” says Cormac Lynch, interior designer and architect with the Piramal Group.

Last year, Piramal Realty and the Piramal Museum of Art commissioned artist duo Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra to paint an artwork that now adorns a stairway wall at Piramal Aranya in Byculla. “We conceptualised and installed the work at the construction stage because we wanted to create a piece that was innately based around Byculla,” Lynch says.


Gurgaon’s Windchants by Experion, meanwhile, is made up of sky villas, penthouses and flats spread out across seven high-rise towers connected by a 1.4-km-long skywalk on the seventh-floor level that offers panoramic views of the city and features green spaces, ‘relaxation corners’ and a jogging track.

“It’s the longest residential skywalk in India,” says Vinay Narang, group senior general manager for corporate communications and PR. “The idea of modern living is going beyond just well-furnished spaces. Luxury living is as much about money as it is about experiences.”

Gurgaon’s Windchants by Experion is made up of sky villas, penthouses and flats across seven towers, all connected by a 1.4-km-long skywalk on the seventh-floor level.

Today’s customers are seeking a lifestyle rather than a branded home, adds Maulik Sheth, director of Ashwin Sheth Group.

Accordingly, the upcoming Sheth Avalon Phase 2 in Thane has roped in Sussanne Khan to design lobby areas and luxury amenities like a mini theatre, a library and a lounge. The building will feature 3, 4 and 5 BHK flats with prices starting at Rs 3 crore.


Puranik Builders’ under-construction projects Tokyo Bay and Rumah Bali on Ghodbunder Road in Thane are inspired by elements from those countries. While the former features an entrance archway modelled on the traditional Japanese Torii gates and has a Zen garden, the latter features cabanas and aromatherapy flower beds designed by Singapore’s Taib Studio.

“In emerging locations, such value additions help a developer set a benchmark in the micro-market. A premium product gives a fillip to the location too,” adds Jain of Cushman & Wakefield.

The upcoming Prestige Leela Residences at Indiranagar, Bengaluru, will mirror the architecture of the adjacent five-star Hotel Leela Palace, which was in turn inspired by the Mysore Palace. The residential tower will have elaborate cornices, pastel marble floors, floral inlays, vaulted roofs and imposing domes.

It’s worth noting, however, maintaining these luxury value-additions is no cakewalk. “Cleaning a single dome can take an entire day,” says Ankit Shukla, cluster head for luxury projects at the Prestige Group. “On estimate, the maintenance cost of such a luxury property would be significantly higher than that of a regular building.”

Moreover, the resale price may not reflect these value additions, says Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director of the realty research company Liases Foras. “A buyer’s decision is likely to be more influenced by the profile of the neighbourhood and the views,” he adds.

First Published: Jul 07, 2018 18:54:33


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