news – March 2021
City in a Garden | An Update
Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is just one example of how smart cities are creating smart spaces.
By Douglas Weinstein
MOONSHOTS. NO, NOT THOSE RUM, JÄGERMEISTER AND BLUE CURAÇAO shots you were looking forward to on your next vacation in the Caribbean. I’m referring to those impossible dreams that are not only disruptive but also quite elegant in their strategic simplicity and beauty. “Hey, let’s land someone on the moon in the next decade.” Those kinds of moonshots.
Anyway, Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is one of those moonshots that has fascinated me for well over a decade, as it has developed from concept to reality. I wrote about it some time back for our sister newsletter The Insider, so I wanted to give those of you unfamiliar with this spectacular city achievement a look-see into what we might eventually get around to doing as we transform our aging cityscapes and power grids into smart cities with smart grids and smart spaces.
This particular moonshot dates back to when Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong first proposed the concept of transforming its Garden City into a “City in a Garden” back in 2005. In operation now for just about 10 years, it is Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space and a national icon. As wellness architecture becomes more prevalent, urban outdoor spaces will evolve to play a mirroring role in biophilic design and nature conservation. Here’s an overview of the space:
The park (shown above) is located within the Marina Bay district in the central core of Singapore. The park consists of three waterfront gardens, the largest being the Bay South Garden which spans 130 acres and houses the Flower Dome, the largest glass greenhouse in the world.
The Cloud Forest is another enclosure that replicates cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions. It features the Cloud Mountain (left) which is accessible by elevator, with a circular pathway for those wanting to traverse on foot. The structure is completely clad in epiphytes such as orchids, ferns and clubmosses. Designed by Grant Associates, there are multiple levels and themes including The Lost World, The Cavern, The Crystal Mountain and The Secret Garden.
There is also the spectacular Supertree Grove (below), with 18 tree-like structures ranging between 80 and 160 feet in height. They are home to unique and exotic ferns, vines and a collection of bromeliads. They are fitted with technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees, harnessing solar energy and collecting rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays. They also serve air intake and outtake functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems. At night, the Supertree Grove comes alive with a light and music show known as the Garden Rhapsody.
There is a vast world to discover when you visit this city in a garden. The Heritage Gardens and World of Plants are horticultural themed gardens which center on the horticultural heritage of the various cultural groups in Singapore and on the biology and ecology of gardens and forests. They are an important part of the Gardens’ edutainment program, which aims to bring plant knowledge to the public.
Gardens by the Bay is just one example of a smart city space that delivers a great eco experience and demonstrates how technology can harness natural resources in a resilient and sustainable fashion.
Finally, Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is scheduled to open a dedicated Gardens by the Bay MRT station in early 2022, furthering the ability of Singapore’s population to efficiently visit this spectacular moonshot. Let’s hope this entirely spectacular city center serves as a model for future smart city design plans here in the United States.