Gardens by the Bay



Gardens by the Bay comprises three public gardens in Marina Bay occupying a total land area of 1,010,000 sq m (101 ha).1 Built on reclaimed land, the three gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central – started out as projects of the National Parks Board (NParks).2 They have since grown to become part of an independently managed organisation.3 Housed within the Gardens are cooled conservatories, individual themed gardens, event and dining spaces, connecting waterways, lakes, aerial bridges and the showpiece Supertrees. The latter are structures up to 50 m in height, covered by plants.4 Bay South, the largest garden, officially opened on 29 June 2012.5

Background
The Gardens by the Bay was conceptualised in 2005 as a key component of the government’s “City in a Garden” vision, which evolved from Singapore’s reputation as a Garden City.6 NParks envisioned a garden that would eventually rival iconic green spaces like Central Park in New York and London’s Kew Gardens, and become a defining feature of Singapore’s aspirations to become a global city.7 A new public green space in the city area was also needed, as the Singapore Botanic Gardens was overstretched by the demands of leisure, research and academic usage.8 It was thus decided that Gardens by the Bay would be the focal point for horticultural recreation, while the Botanic Gardens would cater mainly to education, research and conservation.9

The Gardens project was led by former NParks chief executive Tan Wee Kiat, who subsequently became the chief executive officer of Gardens by the Bay.10 Tan promoted the Gardens as a public space for all Singaporeans in the prime area of Marina Bay.11 He also sought public funding for the project and the usage of a prime plot of land by pointing out that an iconic green space would boost the commercial value of developments around it as well as enhance Singapore’s economic and tourism appeal.12 Tan has credited the support of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as being instrumental to the success of the project.13

Design process, construction and development
In January 2006, NParks launched a competition for the masterplan and design of the Gardens.14 The competition was open to local and international architects and landscape planners, and drew more than 70 entries by 170 firms from 24 countries, including entries by well-known architectural firms such as Office for Metropolitan Architecture, and Foster and Partners.15 The 11-member international jury assessed the designs based on their appeal to both local and foreign recreation-seekers as well as the profiles of the design teams.16


Four months later, the designs of 10 teams consisting of 38 firms were shortlisted based on their respective track records and approaches. Of the 38 firms, nine were from Singapore, 10 from Japan, nine from the United Kingdom, three from the Netherlands, six from the United States and one from Australia.17 In September 2006, NParks announced that British landscape consultancy Grant Associates had been chosen to design Bay South, while Bay East would be designed by London-based firm Gustafson Porter.18 The design for Bay Central was left open pending public feedback.19 The designs for the Gardens were displayed at the Singapore pavilion at the Venice Biennale.20

In June 2007, Marina City Park and Marina South Promenade were closed for the construction of the Gardens.21 The ground-breaking ceremony was held in November, and it was announced that the Gardens would cost an estimated S$900 million, receive around 2.7 million visitors each year and generate some S$1 billion in tourism receipts over 10 years.22

During the construction of the Gardens, NParks acquired plants and trees from numerous sources worldwide.23 A S$7-million research facility was set up at HortPark, comprising six glasshouses that simulated various climatic conditions and enabled NParks to test the most efficient methods of getting non-native flowers to bloom.24 In April 2008, NParks received the first shipment of plants meant for the Gardens – a S$2-million collection of bromeliads native to the Americas. The collection consisted of 210,000 bromeliads of more than 3,000 varieties.25

The capping of the first conservatory in the Gardens – Bay South’s Flower Dome – was completed in February 2011.26 In October, the water-themed Bay East was opened for interim public use.27 The Flower Dome was opened for a week-long preview from 14 to 20 November 2011, in conjunction with the World Orchid Show.28

Construction costs for Bay South had risen more than 30 percent by then, but were kept manageable through the use of cost-efficient technologies, an increase in public funding and corporate sponsorship of a number of the Gardens’ features.29 Bay South opened to the public on 29 June 2012, while Bay East (open as an interim garden) and Bay Central were slated to open at a later date.30 

Gardens by the Bay was conferred the World Building of the Year Award at the prestigious World Architecture Festival held in Marina Bay Sands in October 2012, the first time that the festival took place outside of Barcelona, Spain. The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatories also received an award for best display building.31

Bay South
Envisioned as a garden filled with colour and vibrancy throughout the year, Bay South is the largest of the three gardens at 540,000 sq m.32 The garden showcases tropical blooms and colourful foliage, as well as ethnic and colonial-themed areas where visitors can learn about the link between plants and Singapore’s history.33 There are two conservatories in Bay South: the Flower Dome that replicates the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean and hosts baobabs and olive trees, among others; and the Cloud Forest with a cool-moist climate akin to tropical montane regions situated 1,000–3,500 m above sea level.34 The two conservatories contain over 220,000 plants and span a combined area of 23,000 sq m (2.3 ha), equivalent to four football fields.35


The Gardens’ 18 Supertrees are all located in Bay South, with the tallest steel-framed concrete structure standing at 50 m and the shortest at 25 m.36 Each Supertree is covered with nearly 163,000 plants of more than 200 species and varieties, including bromeliads, orchids and tropical flowering climbers.37 The Supertrees, inspired by the giant trees of the rainforest, also function as exhaust vents for the conservatories and as dining spaces. Eleven of them have environment-friendly features such as solar panels and water harvesters.38 Bay South also contains individual themed gardens such as the Heritage Gardens, lakes, and over 9,000 sq m of commercial space.39

The Gardens’ energy needs, such as the cooling of the conservatories, are partially met by an underground bio-mass boiler that utilises horticultural and organic waste to power a steam turbine.40 The conservatories are cooled by chilled water pipes at ground level, which allow warm air to be vented out at high levels, while a liquid desiccant system dehumidifies the air in the Gardens, reducing energy usage.41

Satay by the Bay
food court, Satay by the Bay, was opened in the Gardens in January 2013. The concept was inspired by the old Satay Club near the Padang, which was torn down in 1995 to make way for development in the area. The food court covers 2,000 sq m and can seat 1,000 people. Other than its 28 stalls, it has an outdoor area that recreates the atmosphere of the old Satay Club by the use of pushcarts selling satay alongside low tables and stools for customers to sit and have their meal.42

Programmes and events

The Gardens have organised several notable programmes and events.43 In February 2013, GB Ambassadors, a scheme for guided tours led by Girl Guides and Brownies, was started to foster an interest in nature among youths. Under the scheme, guides would lead fellow students along two new nature trails in the Gardens.44 In May 2013, Tulipmania, a showcase of tulips from the Netherlands, was held at the Gardens. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines sponsored the planting of 40,000 bulbs in the Flower Dome.45 In July 2013, Italian sculptor Roberto Visani’s seed artworks were exhibited, for the first time outside of Italy, in the Gardens.46

The Gardens celebrated its first anniversary in June 2013 with a concert at the Meadow featuring local singers.47 It also staged Mystical Supertrees, a light-and-music show that lit up the tree trunks and illuminated the sky with a dazzling array of images.48 By then, the Gardens had welcomed over five million visitors.49

The Gardens also hosted other events in 2013, such as the Spring Wave Music Festival from Taiwan and the Singapore Social Concerts; the latter were held in conjunction with the inaugural international Social Star Awards that recognised popular personalities in the world’s top social media platforms.50

Timeline
2005:
 Conceptualisation of the Gardens.51

Jan 2006: Competition for masterplan and design.52
Sept 2006: Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter designs are selected.53
Nov 2007: Ground-breaking ceremony.54
Apr 2008: The Gardens receives its first shipment of plants.55
Feb 2011: The capping of the Flower Dome is completed.56
Nov 2011: Preview of Bay South.57
29 Jun 2012:
 Official opening of Bay South.58

Oct 2012: The Gardens wins World Building of the Year award.59
Jan 2013: Satay by the Bay opens.60
Feb 2013: Launch of GB Ambassadors.61
Jun 2013: The Gardens celebrates its first anniversary.62



Authors

Alvin Chua and Jan Yap



References
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50. Chan, B. (2013, May 6). Smashing Spring WaveThe Straits Times, p. 8; Kok, M. (2013, May 25). Cool weather, big stars, sizzling hot musicThe Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
51. Tan, D. W. (2012, June 29). Gardens by the Bay not an easy decision: PMThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Said-Moorhouse, L. (2012, June 8). Solar-powered ‘supertrees’ breathe life into Singapore’s urban oasis. CNN Wire. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
52. Lee, K. S. (2006, January 21). Flower power to spice up Marina BayThe Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
53. Lee, U.-W., & Tor, C. L. (2006, September 7). The green thumbs-upToday, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
54. Ramchandani, N. (2007, November 10). Gardens to do a Garden City proudThe Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
55. Hong, X. Y. (2008, April 1). A $2 million start to a $900 million gardenThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
56. National Parks. (2011, February 15). Speech by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development at the capping of the Flower Dome on 15 February 2011 at 9.20am, Gardens By the Bay. Retrieved from National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/news/2011/2/speech-by-mr-mah-bow-tan-minister-for-national-development-at-the-capping-of-the-flower-dome-on-15-february-2011-at-920am-gardens-by-the-bay
57. Bay South to partially open in Nov 2011. (2010, June 25). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
58. Lim, J. (2012, April 4). Gardens by the Bay opens on June 29The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
59. Zachariah, N. A. (2012, October 6). Gardens by the Bay wins top awardsThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
60. Lin, M. (2013, January 4). Satay Club nostalgia at Gardens by the BayThe Straits Times, p. 6; Lin, M. (2013, April 26). Nostalgia on a skewerThe Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
61. Poon, C. H. (2013, February 17). Girl Guides to lead nature trail tours at Gardens. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
62. Sim, R. (2013, June 30). Thousands gather for Gardens’ 1st anniversaryThe Straits Times, pp. 2–3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Gardens
Parks
Streets and Places
Nature>>Plants
Parks--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Gardens--Singapore
Parks and gardens
Plants