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Singapore has raised the bar on green space by integrating innovative green technologies and biological diversity on a massive scale with its recently opened Gardens by the Bay. Built on the redeveloped Marina Bay for over £504 million, funded by the Government, the 101 hectare super park includes three gardens, inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall. Tim Smit, cofounder of Eden, calls it “a great achievement and a statement of intent and ambition bearing in mind the value of land there”. It could be “a powerful tool for raising awareness in the region”, he adds.
The largest garden, at 54 hectares, is Bay South, designed by British landscape architecture firms Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre, working with environmental design consultants Atelier 10. Greeting visitors is the notable Conservatory Complex, consisting of two biomes with a total volume of 135 Olympic swimming pools. The Flower Dome and the Cloud Dome house over 250,000 rare and endangered plant species, procured for about £100 million.
Rare plants aside, the conservatories steal the sustainable practice show with a biomass furnace feeding on urban horticultural waste from the North Park to generate heat and power, and also fertiliser in the form of ash. Waste heat is captured to regenerate a liquid desiccant that dehumidifies the air before it is cooled. As Meredith Davey, Senior Associate Director of Atelier 10, explains: “Other buildings have used elements of the technologies we have used, [but] it is the combination of them in such an integrated manner, and the scale, that makes the project so special.”
Exhaust air from the conservatories is captured by 18 ‘Supertrees’: giant futuristic structures, rising 25-50m, which provide breeding sites for important birds and insects. They are covered in a living skin to support 162,900 plants comprising 200 non-native species, and also feature photovoltaic cells and rainwater harvesting systems. These ‘trees’ are already attracting attention from developers looking to use them as a striking way to integrate green technology into the landscape.