Singapore’s ambitious Gardens by the Bay – Bay South project opened this month to much fanfare. The wonderful renderings have been in the news for months, but visitors finally got the chance to see the project up-close. For those of you not familiar with the project:
Gardens by the Bay is a 101 hectare property in downtown Singapore an is part of the country’s plan to convert the “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden.” First announced in 2005, the project is intended to become Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space. After a large international competition, the firms Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter were chosen to design the Bay South and Bay East Gardens, respectively.
On of the most talk about and unique features of the Garden South project are the “Supertrees.” Per the official gardens website: “These unique trees of up to 16 storeys in height can be found all around the Gardens – 12 at the Supertree Grove, while the remaining six are placed in clusters of threes at the Golden and Silver Gardens.
Providing scale and dimension to the Gardens while marrying the form and function of mature trees, the Supertrees also create height to balance the tall developments in the Marina Bay area. Take a stroll along the 128-metre long walkway that connects the two 25-metre Supertrees at the Supertree Grove and take in a different view of the Gardens. Chill out at the 50-metre Supertree-top bistro and be captivated by the panoramic views of the Gardens as well as the surrounding Marina Bay area.”
While the gardens inherently invoke a sense of designed grandeur, there is the every present voice of those opposed or unimpressed by the Gardens and their “superficial monuments to faux naturalism.” As with many things in Singapore, the gardens are built on reclaimed land. Dissenting voices point to the enormous amount of taxpayer dollars used to fund the project as well as the impact of maintenance. These costs, offset by entry fees, etc, are largely supporting what many would say is a push to become the new Las Vegas of Southeast Asia. With the new Marina Bay Sands resort located nearby, locals fear that the inherent character of the city is starting to erode at an even greater rate.
Ultimately, though the gardens and it’s super trees are touted as new age sustainable endeavors. Once can’t help but ponder the environmental impact of their construction and upkeep. Singapore, ever present on the forefront of urbanization, undoubtedly benefits from the addition of an green space that connects the city to the bay. However, it is yet to be seen whether the trees are part of a growing trend of greenwash or if the design heralds a new example for gardens designs around the world.
Like it or not, check out some stunning pictures of the project below: