Sustainably designed supertrees and domed horticultural conservatories rise from the bayfront of downtown Singapore, rediscovering a wild green urban wonderland.
Gardens By The Bay: Singapore Designs a Paean to the Flowering Earth
Gigantic steel, concrete and wire trees rise from manicured serpentine gardens, human-blessed symmetry reaching skyward. At the bay’s edge, two sustainably-designed domes invite visitors to explore world biomes and horticultural paradises. A public amusement park, ecological urbanism designed to invite the populace to rediscover the wild earth. A visit to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay evokes a green wonderland, artistically crafted, growing “wild” and sort-of-natural.
Gardens by the Bay consists of three distinct waterfront gardens, set in the heart of Singapore’s new downtown Marina Bay. Spanning 101 hectares (250 acres), the Singapore government intends to transform their “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden,” enhancing the quality of life with urban flora amid human fauna, with flourishes of artistic brilliance.
An international competition for the design of the master plan, held in January 2006, attracted more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries. Two firms – Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter – were eventually awarded the master plan design for the Bay South and Bay East Gardens respectively.
Bay South Gardens: Domed Conservatories and Supertrees
Conservatories. The conservatory complex comprises two cooled conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, situated along the edge of Marina Reservoir. Energy efficient, sustainable building technologies provide an all-weather educational-entertainment space within the Gardens.
The Flower Dome, at 1.2 hectares (3.0 acres), replicates cool dry conditions and will feature plants found in the Mediterranean and semi-arid tropical regions with a changing display field. The Cloud Forest is slightly smaller at 0.8 hectares (2.0 acres), replicating the cool moist conditions found in highland tropical regions. It features a “Cloud Mountain,” elevator-accessible, enabling visitors to descend via a circular path where a waterfall refreshes the air.
Supertrees. Supertrees are tree-like structures that dominate the Gardens’ landscape with heights that range between 25 metres (82 ft) and 50 metres (160 ft). They are vertical gardens that perform a multitude of functions, which include planting, shading and working as quasi-environmental-engines.
The Supertrees showcase exotic ferns, vines, orchids and bromeliads. Fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees, photovoltaic cells charge them with artificial photosynthesis, rainwater collects for irrigation and fountain displays. The Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems.
Admired from the elevated Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) Skyway spanning Supertrees, the Gardens blend with the urban jungle as one, with a restaurant envisioned among the wired-branches 160 feet above the earth. At night, the Supertrees glow with a light and music show called the OCBC Garden Rhapsody.
Sustainable Planning and Design Considerations
Key pedestrian and vehicular linkages connect surrounding developments and public transport hubs, increasing accessibility and transitioning the Gardens with the urban land and waterscape.
As well, designers integrated landforms with prevailing winds to allow for gentle breezes in this hot tropical clime. Moreover, shade and shelter abound among tree canopies, plant trellises and cooled conservatories.
Grant Associates also designed a hydrological catchment lake system, capturing run-off from within the Gardens, cleansing water with aquatic plants before discharge into the reservoir. All in all, an amazing creation that must be seen.
From Grant Associates – UK