Chinese Garden (Yu Hwa Yuan)



The Chinese Garden in Jurong was built by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) in 1975 to provide social and recreational amenities for the rapidly developing industrial town.1

Background
The idea for a Chinese garden came about in 1968 as part of the concept for Jurong Park, which envisioned the conversion of mangrove swamps on the upper reaches of the Jurong River into a green belt with landscaped gardens, a lake and open spaces.2 Three islands would be created on the lake to house a Chinese garden, a Japanese garden and a tropical garden.3 A Jurong Park Committee was set up in late 1968 to coordinate the design of the various gardens and developments on the proposed site. Earthworks began that same year and were completed by 1970.4 The plan for the tropical garden was eventually dropped in favour of an 18-hole golf course to provide more recreational options.5

The design concept plan for the Chinese Garden was prepared by Yu Yuen Chen, a Taiwanese expert on Chinese gardens.6 The landscaping, architectural and structural plans were subsequently finalised and the construction of the gardens commenced in 1971.7

The 13.5-hectare garden is modelled on the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture during the Song dynasty (960–1279 CE) and the Summer Palace in Beijing.8 Said to be the largest of its kind outside of China at the time, the striking architecture and vibrant colours of the Chinese Garden was intended to contrast with the tranquillity of the Japanese Garden.9


The S$5.1 million Chinese Garden was officially opened on 18 April 1975 by then Minister for Finance Hon Sui Sen.10 It welcomed almost half-a-million visitors by the end of that year.11

Description
Iconic features of the garden include the marble stone lions, the 13-arch White Rainbow Bridge, the Arch and Main Gate complex, the Stone Boat and Tea House, as well as the seven-storey pagoda.12

Upon entering the garden, visitors are greeted by two marble stone lions at the main entrance. It is a Chinese belief that lions represent authority and felicity. Sculpted stone lions are often placed at entrance of buildings and temples as guardians of these places. The pair of stone lions at the Chinese Garden were sculpted from imported marble stone.13

The main entrance leads to the White Rainbow Bridge. Bridges are one of the characteristic features of Chinese gardens. The design of the White Rainbow Bridge is adapted from the style of the 17-arch bridge at Beijing’s Summer Palace.14

Winding footpaths lead visitors to the various structures and scenic spots in the garden. The Arch and Main Gate complex houses an ornamental pond and two courtyard gardens.15

The Stone Boat is a famous traditional feature of Chinese architecture. The Stone Boat is based on the Beijing style, with some adaptations to its design and materials used. The Tea House is a miniature structure following the style of the more elaborate, winding gallery of the Beijing Summer Palace.16

Interspersed within the garden are pavilions and pagodas. The pavilion is an important component of Chinese gardens. Its arrangement, with its plateau and tower, is based on the principle of balance between height and size. There are altogether five pavilions found within the Chinese Garden.17

A seven-storey pagoda reminiscent of the Ling Ku Temple Pagoda in Nanking is situated on a small hill in the garden.18 There is also a pair of pagodas by the lake, which are modelled on the Spring and Autumn pagodas in Southern China.19

Over the years, the garden has undergone several changes with new features added to it. For instance, a S$5 million Suzhou-style Bonsai Garden was opened on 22 June 1992.20

Covering an area of 5,800 sq m, the Bonsai Garden houses over 2,000 bonsais from China, Taiwan, Japan, Southeast Asia and Singapore.21 Sitting at the garden’s entrance are two lion-shaped bonsai, said to be over 280 years old, from Guangzhou, China.22

In 2001, as part of revitalisation plans for the garden, JTC made the Bonsai Garden free to the public and extended its opening hours to 10 pm.23

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum was opened in 2002 by collector, Danny Tan.24 More than 200 turtles and tortoises from over 60 species are on display at the museum.25

The Chinese Garden is especially popular during the Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.26 It is known for its large-scale festive displays. In 2012, for instance, over 3,500 lanterns were displayed around the garden and lake during the Mid-Autumn Festival.27



Author

Nureza Ahmad



References
1. Jurong Town Corporation. (1976). Jurong Town Corporation annual report ’75. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 39. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR]); Yeo, T. J. (1968, October 26). Jurong gets ready to grow three times. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Jurong Town Corporation. (1969). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1968/69 [Microfilm no.: NL 10959]. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 2.
2. Jurong Town Corporation. (1969). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1968/69 [Microfilm no.: NL 10959]. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 33; Plans that led to the wide open spaces at Jurong. (1975, April 19). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Jurong Town Corporation. (1969). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1968/69 [Microfilm no.: NL 10959]. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 33; Jurong Town Corporation. (1971). Jurong Town Corporation annual Report 70. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR])
4. Jurong Town Corporation. (1969). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1968/69 [Microfilm no.: NL 10959]. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 33.
5. Jurong Town Corporation. (1976). Jurong Town Corporation annual report ’75. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 41. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR])
6. Jurong Town Corporation. (1969). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1968/69 [Microfilm no.: NL 10959]. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 33; Plans that led to the wide open spaces at Jurong. (1975, April 19). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Jurong Town Corporation. (1971). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1970. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR]); Jurong Town Corporation. (1972). Jurong Town Corporation annual report 1971. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 26. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR])
8. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 10. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR); Campbell, W. (1973, December 2). The Chinese Garden. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Jurong Town Corporation. (1976). Jurong Town Corporation annual report ’75. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 40. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR]); Chinese Garden taking shape on four islands in Jurong River. (1971, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Jurong Town Corporation. (1976). Jurong Town Corporation annual report ’75. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 14. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR]); Plans that led to the wide open spaces at Jurong. (1975, April 19). The Straits Times, p. 6; Cheang, C. (1975, April 18). Hon opens $5 mil Chinese Garden. The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Jurong Town Corporation. (1976). Jurong Town Corporation annual report ’75. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 40. (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR-[AR])
12. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
13. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, pp. 6, 13. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
14. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, pp. 6, 17. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
15. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, pp. 6–7. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
16. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 21. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
17. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 25. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
18. Jurong Town Corporation. (1975). Yu Hwa Yuan. Singapore: The Corporation, p. 31. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 JUR)
19. You will find peace and quiet in this green haven. (1975, April 18). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Suzhou-style bonsai garden opens. (1992, June 23). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Suzhou-style bonsai garden opens. (1992, June 23). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Bonsai lions stand guard at garden’s gate. (1992, April 21). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Leong, P., & Arlina Arshad. (2001, September 24). Visit Chinese Garden for free from mid-November. The Straits Times, p. 6; Boo, K. (2001, November 10). Stroll the Chinese Garden by moonlight. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. McLeod, M. (2003, June 13). Turtle collector shelling out $1.6m for bigger museum. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Singapore Tourism Board. (n.d.). Chinese Garden. Retrieved 2017, February 9 from Singapore Tourism Board website: http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore/nature-wildlife/parks-gardens/chinese-garden.html
26. Singapore Tourism Board. (n.d.). Chinese Garden. Retrieved 2017, February 9 from Singapore Tourism Board website: http://www.yoursingapore.com/see-do-singapore/nature-wildlife/parks-gardens/chinese-garden.html
27. Vasko, L. (2012, September 21). Light show. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2012 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, Chinese--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Landscape architecture
Streets and Places
Recreation>>Places of Interest
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Places of interest