Gardens By the Bay, Singapore
One of the most eye-catching architectural designs of the last few years has to be Singapore’s spectacular Gardens By the Bay nature park. Covering 150 hectares and home to over a million plants, Gardens by the Bay is a wonderful example of how cutting-edge design and development does not have to be at odds with nature. Built as part of the Singapore government’s plan to reclaim urban land and increase flora and fauna in the busy city, the project is a reminder that rapidly-advancing economies and highly populated cities can dedicate time and space to environmental pursuits.
Gardens by the Bay is made of three gardens: Bay South, the largest, opened in 2012 and is home to the spectacular Supertrees. Bay East is a public garden space while Bay Central is still undergoing development. The project was first announced in 2005, with an international competition held to find architects. Two British firms won the contest, with Grant Associates and WilkinsonEyre leading the design for Bay South and Dominic White designing Bay East.
The Supertree Grove, designed by Grant Associates, is the most noticeable feature of the project and is a collection of vertical gardens. Each supertree is between 25-50m tall and made of concrete and reinforced steel, but you wouldn’t know to look at it – its ‘living skin’ is planted with 162,900 plants. Photovoltaic cells in 11 of the trees’ canopies collect solar energy, mimicking real trees, and the Supertrees collect rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, just as real trees absorb rainwater. Two of the trees are connected by an aerial walkway.
Supertree Grove at night, from gardensbythebay.com.sg
Two conservatories, designed by WilkinsonEyre, dominate Bay South. The Flower Dome, which is the world’s largest columnless glasshouse, has a mild, dry Mediterranean-like climate and is home to an olive grove and plants from Australia, South America and South Africa. The Cloud Forest replicates tropical mountain conditions such as those in South East Asia and South America. Its main feature is a ‘cloud mountain’, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. The 35-metre structure is covered in vegetation and visitors can descend the mountain and explore the biodiversity in different zones.
Other attractions include the Sun Pavilion, filled with 100 species of desert plants, Heritage Gardens, where visitors can learn the history and culture of Singapore and its three main ethnic groups and the Dragonfly and Kingfisher lakes, which form an important part of the Garden’s ecosystem.
Have you been to Gardens By the Bay? Let us know what you thought in the comments!
The Cloud Mountain, from wilkinsoneyre.com
The Flower Dome, from gardensbythebay.com.sg