When I lived in Singapore from 1984 to 1986 land reclamation in the Marina Bay area was already going on and was eventually completed in 1992. The main objectives for the development of this area were optimising the waterfront location and creating a distinctive image with international landmarks that could become a focal point for the city.
Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The largest of the gardens is Bay South Garden at 54 hectares (130 acres).
Gardens by the Bay is part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”. The stated aim is to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city.
During a recent visit back to Singapore I at last had the opportunity to visit these gardens and have to say that they are the most impressive gardens I have ever visited. The key attractions of the Gardens by the Bay are the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatories and the Supertree Grove with skywalk.
The conservatory complex at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, comprises two cooled conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, situated along the edge of Marina Reservoir. The conservatories, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, are intended to be an energy efficient showcase of sustainable building technologies and to provide an all-weather edutainment space within the Gardens. Both are very large (around 1 hectare (2.5 acres)) and the Flower Dome is the world’s largest columnless glasshouse.
The construction of the glasshouses is special in two ways. First of all by being able to have such large a glass-roof without additional interior support (such as columns). Secondly because the constructions aims strongly at minimizing the environmental footprint. Rainwater is collected from the surface and circulated in the cooling system which is connected to the Supertrees. The Supertrees are used both to vent hot air and to cool circulated water.
The Cloud Forest is higher but slightly smaller at 0.8 hectares (2.0 acres). It replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions between 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above sea level, found in South-East Asia, Middle- and South America. It features a 42-metre (138 ft) “Cloud Mountain”, accessible by an elevator, and visitors will be able to descend the mountain via a circular path where a 35-metre (115 ft) waterfall provides visitors with refreshing cool air.
The “Cloud mountain” itself is an intricate structure completely clad in epiphytes such as orchids, ferns, peacock ferns, spike- and club mosses, bromeliads and anthuriums. It consists of a number of levels, each with a different theme.
The Flower Dome is the lower but larger of the two, at 1.2 hectares (3.0 acres). It replicates a mild, dry climate and features plants found in the Mediterranean and other semi-arid tropical regions (e.g. parts of Australia, South America, South Africa).
The Flower Dome is 38 metres (125 ft) high and maintains a temperature between 23 °C and 25 °C, slightly lower at night.
The Flower Dome features seven different “gardens” as well as an olive grove with a bistro and a central changing display field has also been incorporated to enable flower shows and displays to be held within the conservatory.
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 environmental engines for the gardens.
The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads such as Tillandsia, amongst other plants. They are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees – photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesize; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, exactly like how trees absorb rainwater for growth. The Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems.
There is an elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, between two of the larger Supertrees for visitors to enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the Gardens. A food and beverage outlet is planned atop the 50-metre (160 ft) Supertree. At night, the Supertrees come alive with a light and music show called the OCBC Garden Rhapsody.
Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia
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