Architectural Escapades #1 – Gardens By the Bay

Yeah, yeah. So apart from world views, travels and fun stuff, this new year one of my resolutions is to find focus in architecture. Well some focus atleast. So a new series follows suit, its aptly called Escapades! Cause like art, literature and traveling it fuels the tendency of escapism.

Unfortunately am not going to be sharing any of the pictures I shot on the trip, that am allowed to do only in June, once it opens. Oh well, I would like to honor the COO’s word. 🙂

Right so, the Gardens by the Bay.

When Singapore began planning its new downtown, south of Marina Bay, the policy-makers decided on more ecological planning. Therefore the 100 hectare reclaimed land doesnt follow the motto “garden city” but resolves to “city in the garden”. Whatever the idea, the execution is darn wonderful. This elaborate garden sits in what now looks like a battlefield (read construction site) with innumerable cranes. The gardens are still under construction and comprise of 2 glass-domed conservatories apart from the lush landscaping that are suited to its location. The glass-domed conservatories house Mediterranean gardens and Rainforest gardens. Both spell-binding. The glass-domed conservatories have a grid locking 3000 pieces of glass that are 4 sqm each, done using strategic parametric modelling.

It would be unreal for me to remember the names of all the plants in there. But the 400-yr old Olive trees, the Baobabs with their lofty trunks, the palms from Peru, the Cacti, the aloeveras truly left an impression. The conservatory houses restaurants and banquet spaces that are pleasantly and intelligently tucked behind or between the fauna. The parametrically designed glass dome opens up in places and is also shaded. The Mediterranean dome is maintained at the Mediterranean clime which is such a blessing. The cool, dry atmosphere makes one enjoy the flowers more! The cloud garden as is the rainforest garden called has a 30 m waterfall and a misty clime. Oh so wonderful too. Both of these run on Biomass energy and are carbon neutral in their running. I suspect their ecological footprint is not so marvelous though. One look at the service areas, I was reminded of the Airport service area. Tons of pipes, chilled water, fire hydrants, you name it and its in there. Did not look as ecological down under!

Anyway cynicism takes one nowhere. The bright-side is that the entire conservatory is cooled in what can be described by a smart fashion. As thermal chimneys suck up hot air along the roof, chilled water pipes run through the floor keeping surface temperatures low. Besides the air inside the conservatory is stratified and cooled only in areas that need to be cooled. With an all glass roof and absolutely no columns the light quality is superb. The plants need the extra sunlight! And then the conservatories are located at the waterfront. Which guarantees more sunlight reach, at least better than a neighborhood of the tall, taller and tallest buildings. Located next to the reservoir/river water is directed into the garden precinct to make the dragon lake, it looks pretty majestic on the master plan. The gardens outside the two conservatories are spectacular too, they are designed as a large public park with local and regional flavors.

The COO specifically mentioned that the idea was to have a sustainable cycle in the process, or the way of thinking. Carbon-neutrality of the domes are probably their biggest asset. As I put aside the sustainability manifesto I couldn’t help but marvel at the engineering feat accomplished. Singapore’s done it again. Another tourist attraction for sure.

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P.S. I put in some pics that are authorized for sharing, just to prevent stifled yawns =)



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