At an interview this afternoon I was asked what my favourite building in Singapore was. And without thinking too much pat came my reply, from the subconcious, the Gardens by the Bay. Specifically if you ask for a building then I’d say the Glass conservatories at the Gardens by the bay I reiterated. What impressed you so much? the interviewer pressed on, and though I gave him a quick explanation on it’s ingenuity in design, the closed loop of sustainable measures it employs, at the same time holding forth the notion of beauty with lighting framed rhythmic glass panels arching over one’s head, I’d like to give a little or more of my web space to this scenic wonder, that hardly does clarify it’s need but adds a sense of delight and wonder to every heart that visits. It doesn’t scale the skies, instead it wraps it over a leafy adventure. This WAF Building of the Year winning project surely does deserve a visit or two!
Designed by the London based team of Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the climate-controlled cooled conservatories are the architectural centrepieces of the 54-Hectare south gardens planned by Grant Associates. The curvilinear glasshouse structures enclose two very different kinds of biomes, one that mimics the equatorial gardens and the other that displays rare specie from the Mediterranean latitudes of the planet also called the Flower Dome. Both extremely different from what Singapore experiences in terms of biodiversity and climate. The beauty of the conservatories lies not only in it’s design in terms of form, a pattern of clear glass exposing bright blue or cloudy skies, offering a view of the spectacular Marina Bay skyline and the sea at large but also transporting one into a completely different world. May it be twisted evil looking olive trees or the water bearing Baobabs. From Mediterranean to Californian, from Australian to South American it has them all, with a seasonal flower bloom right in the centre. The pathways to these different gardens see a gradation of levels to finally reach a vantage point from when the entire garden is spread below. The Equatorial dome on the other hand is not for the faint-hearted. It is hardly gentle or gradual in approach. Stunning the average visitor with a massive waterfall, the path takes on a quick approach to the summit of the cliff and then commences a descent through an array of suspended bridges. The flora is truly delightful as much as it is educative. Words cannot quite describe the effect the conservatories have.
The Gardens by the bay are also home to a variety of other gardens boasting of the island country’s produce and the magnificent super trees that add an element of sheer gorgeousness as they rise up into the sky. Walking across the trees on tensile bridges offers a birds-eye view into the open-air gardens. On an educational tour while at the National University of Singapore we were given a detailed tour of the facility, studying the large project on various levels. Largely self-supportive, the entire project utilises the resources on site to cater to it’s energy requirements. The function of which are explained in the Garden’s visitor centre to great detail and alacrity. The centre also documents and plays a very engaging film about the rising temperatures of the planet, showing crisply what the world may see in the time to come. For the average nature-lover, the Gardens by the Bay are an absolute paradise, but for even the technologically unchallenged Joe, they are quite a find!