GARDENS BY THE BAY

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Since officially opening its doors in 2012, we look back at the engineering, architectural & horticultural feat that is Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.

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There is a reason why olive trees are not found in the tropics. The native Mediterranean species thrives in bright sunshine, but requires chillier temperatures lớn bear flowers and fruit. Hence, when an olive tree in equatorial Singapore, estimated lớn be over 1000 years old, successfully blossomed & subsequently fruited in 2015, it was a testament to lớn the engineering & horticultural achievement that is Gardens by the Bay, the 101-hectare park located in the urban downtown of the city-state.

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First conceived by Dr Kiat W. Tan, botanist và former chief executive of Gardens by the Bay, the idea of constructing a world-class garden in the tropics, on reclaimed land, south of Singapore’s financial centre, seemed completely outrageous at the time.

It is hard lớn imagine that this horticultural destination was once sea, then sand and soggy soil. Yet, in a relatively short five years up to its official opening in 2012, an inter-disciplinary team of international & local architects, engineers, and landscape specialists successfully transformed a barren site bereft of roads, drains và electricity into a lush green space where over 1 million plants reside. Plants, trees & flowers from every continent, except for Antarctica, can be found in the Gardens.

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Then there are the larger-than-life structures: the Supertrees, towering man-made trees measuring up lớn 16 storeys tall; và the two cooled conservatories, Flower Dome và Cloud Forest. Beyond being superlative attractions designed to capture the imagination of the public, most structures were inventively constructed to be energy efficient in their use of water & energy.

Now more than 50 million people have visited from around world, we look back at the marvellous thinking that has gone intoGardens by the Bay.

A Singapore Icon

The first sight that greets every visitor atGardens by the Bayis the funnel-shaped canopies of wintry, steel branches phối atop towering steel and concrete trunks measuring between 25 to lớn 50 metres in height. Mysterious & fantastic, the Supertree Grove invariably evokes comment, speculation và a sense of wonder và awe.

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The character and scale of the grove was inspired by nature – and fiction. Appointed landscape architects, Grant Associates, took cues from the mighty Karri trees of southwestern Australia, a species known to grow up to lớn 80 metres tall, as well as the magical forest in the anime film ‘Princess Mononoke’ by Japanese film studio, Studio Ghibli.

The Supertrees play vital functions in the Garden. One acts as an air exhaust (similar khổng lồ the ecological functions of real trees) for the two conservatories; 11 have solar photovoltaic cells embedded into their canopies for the harvesting of solar energy. Over time, the trees have become thriving ‘vertical gardens’ in which approximately 159,000 epiphytes – orchids, ferns, bromeliads và flowering vines – grow on panels installed on their trunks.

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Unknown khổng lồ most visitors is a Supertree that acts as a chimney stack. It expels non-toxic fumes from a biomass boiler where plant waste from Gardens by the Bay và other parts of Singapore is burnt và converted into fuel. The burnt waste powers a steam turbine, which subsequently produces part of the energy needed lớn chill the two cooled conservatories, reducing energy used from external sources.

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Lit up in the evenings, the diligent trees continue multi-tasking with their very own light & sound show using colourful sequential lighting and music, illuminating the darkness & providing much visual enjoyment from an aerial perspective.

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A fusion of nature, art & technology, it’s no surprise that the Supertrees have become landmarks of Singapore instantaneously recognisable khổng lồ all.

Under the domes

It was the Roman emperor, Tiberius, who pioneered the world"s first greenhouse in 30 AD. Made of stone và mica, it was heated by fires outside the structure, creating the ideal conditions khổng lồ grow his crop of choice: cucumbers. The modern glass-clad greenhouse, or conservatory, does not rely on such heat sources. Instead, it traps solar energy khổng lồ create a warm, temperature-controlled environment; perfect for plants that wouldn’t otherwise thrive in the cold outdoors.

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In the tropics, the converse applies. Cooled conservatories were part of Dr Tan’s original vision for Gardens by the bay to showcase plants alien khổng lồ the tropics. However, these would be no ordinary conservatories, but two supersized glass domes. In fact, Flower Dome was recognised as the largest glass greenhouse in the world by the năm ngoái Guinness World Records.

WilkinsonEyre, the winning architects, drew up plans for conservatories that not only pushed the boundaries of engineering, but were also aesthetically pleasing & energy efficient.

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Both domes are made up of close khổng lồ 6,000 pieces of coated state-of-the-art, double-glazed glass panels that allow 66 per cent of external light and 33 per cent of external heat through. A system of steel gridshell and arches protects & stabilises the domes. An absence of columns ensure that no shadows are cast on the plants và they can enjoy as much as sunlight as possible.

Today, millions of visitors have visited the 1.2 hectareFlower Domefor its Mediterranean-zone flora, and the 0.8 hectareCloud Forestto ascend its 35-metre high man-made mountain slope studded with plants from tropical mountains, & feel the mist from the world"s tallest indoor waterfall. With temperatures kept usually between 23 lớn 25 degrees centigrade, the domes also offer welcome respite from Singapore’s tropical heat.

The ability to control the temperature of the domes offers an additional & beautiful benefit. Many plants that would otherwise bloom only once a year in their natural habitat can now bloom almost all year round in tropical Singapore. The diurnal temperatures in Flower Dome, ranging between 12 to lớn 24 degrees centigrade, match some of the plants’ spring temperatures in their natural environment, stimulating flowering more frequently.

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Displaying temperate blooms, such as tulips, cherry blossoms, dahlias & camellias, in thematic floral displays on the equator was previously unfathomable, because these plants require a period of cold, or ‘chilling requirement’, lớn blossom. Thanks to the cooling giải pháp công nghệ in the conservatories as well as the expertise & dedication of the Gardens’ horticulturalists, Singaporeans are treated to much-loved displays of a palette of extraordinary flowers in Flower Dome every year.

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On paper, Gardens by the bay was an outrageous idea. In the flesh, it still is. Where else can visitors amble around in the world"s largest cooled conservatory, or get into misty cloud cover without leaving the island"s shores? Where else allows visitors to lớn get up close with an unbeatable collection of plant life sourced from all corners of the globe?

Today the Gardens exist as a “people’s garden”, bringing together communities from across Singapore và people from around the world. It took a mere five years for Gardens by the cất cánh to rise from barren reclaimed land to lớn become one of the most talked about engineering và horticultural marvels in the world. What’s five years? For the team who built it, a long journey faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Lớn an olive tree that has lived for over 1000 years, it’s a chance for a new trang chủ in the tropics. Imagine that.