If you’ve ever spent any time south of Sydney’s CBD, you’ve no doubt seen Central Park, a towering mixed-use development notable for the greenery lining the building’s exterior. Or perhaps you’re more at home in Brisbane, where you might have noticed the 2.6-hectare West Village, a vibrant, chic area where residences, restaurants, cafes and green spaces are divided by cosy little laneways.
What you might not know is that both properties have won the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) President’s Awards in their respective states (although, to look at them, you wouldn’t be surprised).
What you may not also know is both were developed by the same company – Sekisui House Australia. CEO and Managing Director Hide Seguchi considers the awards (both projects have won many others) to be great achievements, but for him, it’s not about the awards the company wins – it’s about making a difference.
“Japanese brands are usually associated with quality, value for money and practicality. Sekisui House is all those things, but more,” says Hide.
“Love of humanity is our corporate philosophy, and that’s about creating happiness for others and placing the greatest value in the people we build for. There is a sincere commitment to the resident experience that is not inherently tied to financial outcomes.
“Sekisui House is a Japanese property developer, in our 60th year of operation. We entered the Australian market in 2009. Our broad capabilities in Australia include housing (low and medium density), high-rise development and large-scale development of greenfield master plans.”
As an example, the company places a huge focus on developing green space and amenities beyond the bare minimum of what is expected, simply because Sekisui House wants to create the ideal living space for its residents.
Delivery of West Village’s first parkland, dining amenity and event space was fast-tracked in 2018 to provide added value for the first residents of the development who moved in that year.
“For Sekisui House, sustainability is not just about being green or eco-friendly, although this is important,” Hide explains.
“We look beyond structures and raw materials and consider the people who live in our homes and their surrounding community. For us, it’s about engineering an environment where people can live and co-exist with their natural surroundings that is the key to a truly sustainable society.
“Populations will continue to grow and there will always be demand for quality housing. We have a responsibility to ensure we place minimal impact on the environment in the process and try to create a better place than what was there before. It’s this ideal that has driven Sekisui House to pioneer commercial volume production of net-zero energy homes in Japan.”
Although Hide’s only been in his present role since last October, he’s been with Sekisui House Australia since 2011.
In his previous position as General Manager for Developments and Communities, he was “intimately involved” with the company’s residential projects, including high-density and mixed-use developments.
Attention to detail, precision and quality are fundamental cores of our approach.
Today, however, he takes a broader view of the company’s mission, not focusing on individual business units. That effort has been helped by the already established strengths of the company, thanks to its experience in Japan.
Expansion into Australia was a natural choice, given its strong economy and housing shortage; Hide praises its “warm, friendly” people, believing that they share with his own countrymen a “love of new technology and innovation”.
“By that time, we were already one of the largest home building companies in Japan, with over two million homes built, offering a level of service that wasn’t commonly found elsewhere. We had an established and efficient process for on-time completion and delivery, clean construction sites and outstanding customer service systems. We saw an opportunity to bring our philosophies to overseas markets and demonstrate how homes can support the happiness of families.”
Hide remains cautiously optimistic despite market uncertainties. The company is driving Sydney-wide expansion of its signature housing product, SHAWOOD, a structurally sophisticated proprietary metal joint post and beam system.
It’s part of a focus on sustainable pre-engineered construction, although Hide is quick to note that everything is considered when it comes to Sekisui House’s construction – quality, attention to detail and respect for the environment are paramount.
“Market sentiment around construction quality has placed a spotlight on the reputation of the developer and builder. That’s a positive for our company, because our attention to detail, precision and quality are fundamental cores of our approach to development and home building.
Our company’s global strength and stability means that we have the luxury of not having to compromise on quality, and we can provide a level of certainty and comfort to our customers.”