A look into the minds of the judges
Judges talk about their experience, the entries and the property industry.
By Yanika Liew
The StarProperty Developer Awards 2023 welcomes a selection of accomplished judges, bringing with them a commitment to an extensive examination of the property industry’s upcoming developments.
Coming from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, the panel of judges this year includes a surveyor, a town planner, a valuer, two architects, an engineer, an interior designer and an auditor. With extensive experience in the property industry, the judges do not simply represent their sector but also bring their own expertise to the table.
Reliant on a series of stringent calculations and their judgement, the StarProperty Developer Awards 2023 shines brighter than ever with the introduction of its six new categories, as well as the evolution of the All Stars category to a ranking system. The judges were selected with a meticulous eye, as individuals with extensive years of experience and considered a leader in their own right.
The highlight of the StarProperty Awards had always been its dedication to diversity in action, allowing a wide range of expertise to weigh in on developments from all angles. The comprehensive judging criteria, with integrated feedback from the prior year, allows StarProperty to practise constant innovation and improvement in future award shows and beyond.
The judges include:
Here’s what they had to say about the awards this year:
“It was a very well-organised judging session with quality projects entered. I’ve never experienced this many projects being judged before as well as a multitude of categories,” Khaidzir said.
It was a sentiment shared by many of the other judges. Leong noted that the experience of judging was great, with the process covering various aspects of the building development such as design excellence, functionality and performance, innovation, sustainability and assessing the overall impact of the communities.
“Each entry showcased its project’s distinctiveness and the finest features it could bring to the market. Evaluating the entries was a substantial responsibility, but it also provided an avenue to value and acknowledge talent, creativity and the dedication invested by participants in their respective fields,” Norliza added.
She drew from her extensive background as a landscape architect with over 20 years of experience. Her work took her to both Singapore and Malaysia, and she credited her professional journey with valuable insights into the landscape architectural aspects of each respective market.
“It’s a great effort by StarProperty to recognise as many property developers from across the industry as possible. As well as the specific categories based on geographical locations to level the playing field and give everyone chances regardless of where you are,” Khaidzir said.
“Having so many project entrants also means that only the best projects emerged as the eventual winners. I personally feel that judges were also given special importance for our roles in the whole process of this year’s award, from the judging sessions right to the award dinner,” he added.
In the past, he had managed his own awards, as well as being an evaluator and a judge. He noted that his prior experience helped in making balanced judgements over the many facets of the award categories and the variety of projects in different locations.
A collaborative atmosphere
“With judges coming from different but relevant professions and fields, it gives the judging process a more well-rounded and end-to-end approach. I also learned a lot from the questioning lines by the other judges,” Khaidzir said.
Leong noted that the years of her involvement in the building industry provided her with a deeper understanding in architectural design principles, construction detail and techniques.
“Furthermore, the past exposure to various projects enables me to identify trends and gauge the impact of design choices, discern the quality of materials and sustainability features in order to ensure the awarded buildings truly exemplify and contribute to the built environment,” she said.
“It was a captivating experience to connect with numerous judges hailing from diverse industry backgrounds. What united us was a shared objective of identifying the most appropriate development products that are constructed with due regard for the environment and the communities they serve. During our interactions, we engaged in fruitful exchanges of knowledge and ideas, particularly regarding development issues and emerging trends,” Norliza added.
“This platform not only provided an opportunity to evaluate entries but also fostered an environment of collaboration. We discovered shared projects and initiatives, leveraging our collective expertise to drive positive change. The synergy among the judges facilitated the exploration of new possibilities and potential collaborations, enabling us to collectively contribute to the advancement of our respective fields,” she said.
In agreement with Norliza, Leong noted that the judging process gave her an opportunity to engage with diverse groups of experts from the built industry, providing a platform for exchanging ideas and knowledge, leading to a fair assessment of each entry.
“It is always an exciting process to work with and collaborate with other judges from various capacities,” Leong said.
Awareness and change
Tamilsalvi pointed to a specific award that had caught her eye – StarProperty Awards 2023 environmental initiative awards.
“The enthusiasm and passion displayed by the participants were contagious, leaving an indelible impression on my mind. The diverse range of projects showcased the depth of commitment and creativity prevalent in our society,” she said.
She pointed out that numerous entries stood out due to their innovative approach and practical implementation. From family-centric floor plan layouts of residential projects to transit-oriented development (TOD) solutions, it was clear that participants were diligently working to address social and environmental challenges from various perspectives.
One striking aspect of the entries was the evident focus on timeliness. Tamilsalvi noted that witnessing the growing recognition that the people and environment cannot wait for change was inspiring. Urgency and action were at the forefront of many initiatives, indicating a collective awareness that time is essential when preserving the planet, she said.
“The people-centric nature of the projects made the judging experience exceptional. While environmental sustainability was undoubtedly the overarching goal, seeing how these endeavours considered the needs and well-being of communities and individuals were heartening. Social inclusivity, economic empowerment and quality-of-life enhancements were integral to many initiatives,” Tamilsalvi said.
“Working alongside such accomplished professionals has been a privilege, as their contributions have undoubtedly enriched the judgement of the projects we have evaluated. Each judge’s unique expertise has enriched our evaluations and brought valuable insights,” she added.
She noted that the collaborative approach had fostered a comprehensive evaluation process, considering multiple dimensions of the projects through their diverse backgrounds, taking into account a project’s environmental impact, functionality, aesthetics and socio-economic aspects.
“I was privileged to witness the remarkable progress in our community, where timely projects and people-centric approaches are reshaping our environment for the better. As a judge, I remain inspired by the creativity and passion of the participants and I encourage everyone to take action and be a part of the positive change our environment desperately needs,” she added.
The growing industry
“It signifies recognition from industry experts, peers and professionals. It serves as a validation of a developer’s or project’s excellence and distinguishes it from competitors. This recognition helps to build trust and confidence among potential buyers and investors in their branding exercise and adding weights to sales,” Subramaniam said.
In agreement, Ooi noted that the acknowledgement and recognition from established and reputable media like StarProperty carry significant weight based on their high-quality judging systems. It instils confidence in both investors and buyers, assuring them of trend-setting products from the developers.
“The Star is a trusted brand among Malaysians. The StarProperty Awards are prestigious and inclusive for different sizes of developers, covering various themes and development concepts which are consumer-oriented,” Lee said.
When asked what he would like to see in future developments, Subramaniam noted that building to meet affordability and ensuring long-term sustainability was critical. In addition, there was also a need for embracing technology in their products, the right product pricing that commensurate returns, as well as a collaboration between the government and private entities to weather the challenges.
He also pointed to the need for independent market and feasibility reports to identify emerging trends, demands and preferences of potential buyers. These would help developers align their projects with market needs, avoid oversupply in certain segments and ensure a more balanced market.
There is an increasing number of integrated developments, comprising residential, commercial and retail spaces into a single project, Subramaniam said.
Trending in developments
With more focus on sustainability and green building practices, developers have begun to look at eco-friendly features, energy-efficient technologies and green spaces. Noraida noted that developers are increasingly adopting green certifications and committing towards carbon emission reduction.
“These are the type of developments that we would like to see being incorporated by all developers in all developments, regardless of size,” she said.
More and more developments incorporate smart home technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and lifestyle amenities and facilities like landscaped gardens, recreational spaces and more. Subramaniam noted that there was also increasing attention on TODs in urban areas.
“The concept of TOD is gaining momentum in Malaysia as developers recognize the significance of efficient public transportation systems and the reduction of reliance on private vehicles,” Noraida agreed.
These projects involve the creation of mixed-use developments situated in proximity to transit hubs, encouraging pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and promoting sustainable transportation options.
The property sector should prioritise good design, Ooi added. He pointed to the increasing need for creative use of space to suit the Malaysian lifestyle, as well as to deliver high-quality and cost-effective solutions.
“Developers are increasingly focused on providing extensive common facilities in their products, particularly in high-rise residential developments. However, this approach may not always be cost-effective or sustainable in the long run. It seems to be more about distinguishing themselves from other developers and impressing buyers,” Ooi said.
On the other hand, Lee called on the property sector to focus on user experiences and comfort besides just quality and affordability. In agreement with Subramaniam, he noted that developers should also pay attention to connectivity and readiness of the infrastructures near their development.
Developers should put greater emphasis on community-centric designs, creating spaces that foster social interaction and community engagement such as Placemaking, Noraida added.
“Placemaking involves creating and enhancing spaces that promote a sense of community, improve livability, and foster social interactions. By prioritising placemaking, the property sector can contribute to the development of vibrant and engaging environments that cater to the needs and desires of residents and visitors,” she said.
These could include public spaces, creating gathering areas and community hubs while engaging the community in the process to ensure that the development aligns with their needs.
Furthermore, there were more developments incorporating the features of multi-generational living, emphasising on family interaction and giving opportunities for children to look after their elderly parents, which is getting critical as Malaysia transitions into an ageing society.