Singapore is a densely populated country and highly urbanized place which is made liveable by the growing green lungs with an incredible plant cover of almost 50%. Gardens by the Bay is one of the largest garden projects of its kind in the world and an integral part of Singapore’s “City in a Garden” vision and considered one of the most ambitious greening projects. The site comprising three distinct gardens and housing thousands of plants from all over the planet – Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central, is 101 hectares vast. 

Gardens by the Bay is another emerald jewel added to the glory of the waterfront along with the world’s largest Ferris wheel, a state-of-the-art dam, and the Marina Bay Sands Resort.

Youtube for Architects: World's Most Unique Garden: Gardens by the Bay | Megastructures | Free Documentary - Sheet1
Cover Image ©Youtube

YouTube channel, Free Documentary, is dedicated to bringing forth great-coverage stories in the form of fascinating documentaries of everything interesting our planet offers. This documentary focuses on the challenges faced during the planning and construction of this mega structure and the unconventional solutions by architects and engineers that helped mold such a beautiful garden. 

The entire project is based on concrete, steel, glass, and plants. The exotic plants were sourced as far afield as Mexico. 60% of plants are not from the native land of Singapore rather come from both drier and cooler regions around the world like Australia and Europe. The project’s most daunting challenge was to display hundreds of florae from cooler native regions to one of the hottest regions in the world.

Youtube for Architects: World's Most Unique Garden: Gardens by the Bay | Megastructures | Free Documentary - Sheet2
Gardens by the Bay Site Plan ©ArchDaily

Super Trees By Gardens By the Bay

Landscape architect Andrew Grant specializing in creating futuristic and sustainable buildings was the master planner of Bay South. Taking symbolic orchid, the national flower of Singapore, as the garden concept and the stem pattern as the path.

Supertrees meld concrete and steel with the envisioned lush greenery. In the heart of the complex mammoth, 18 supertree forms were erected as vertical gardens of up to 50 meters in height which don’t only support plant life but also an aerial walkway along with a restaurant. 

Like real trees, canopies provide shade to visitors during the day and are lit up with colorful sequenced lights during night-time. The key inspiration for the design of Supertree is drawn from the Valley of the Giants, in Walpole National Park of Western Australia. 28 precast concrete panels are aligned on steel continuity bars and stacked on top of the other to create the trunk of the supertrees. The plants were stored in temporary nurseries near the construction site, before being permanently displayed.

Youtube for Architects: World's Most Unique Garden: Gardens by the Bay by Megastructures by Free Documentary - Sheet3
Super Trees Schematic Sketch ©Grant Associates

Glass Conservatories

The initial site problem during the construction of the glass conservatory was the 30 meters deep marine clay layer which is dangerously soft and highly unstable. Cast in Situ worked as a solid solution where first the borehole is drilled past marine clay into the alluvial soil up to 60 meters deep. A coastal defense wall of the cast in situ concrete is then created to prevent the muddy construction from polluting the marina bay.

Another threat to the glass conservatories was Singapore’s inconsistent weather from monsoon rain to the sweltering tropical sun. Architect Paul Baker designed the glass dome conservatory adding 28 steel arches, mimicking a human ribcage, to guard against high winds and heavy rain of the region. Another set of rib networks of steel frames binds the glass shield together. The triangular section of the grid shell allows minimum shadow and increases the lightness of the structure. The glass facade was tested to withstand simulated thunderstorms, hailstones, and computer-aided wind pressure.

“It’s like gluing a model together but on a mega scale.” The architect stated in the documentary.

Balancing the light and heat inside the conservatory was the main goal for plants to survive in the inner environment, so the double-glazing was done with the inner glass surface coated with a low emissive coating to control the passing light by reflecting and absorbing excessive heat. Computerized sun shades work as an extra protective layer where temperature-sensitive cells beneath the glass automatically trigger the rolling mechanism of shades. 

Youtube for Architects: World's Most Unique Garden: Gardens by the Bay by Megastructures by Free Documentary - Sheet4
Conservatory Dome Section ©Archdaily

Sustainability

Mega chillers were used to cool down the inner temperature of the giant greenhouses in an eco-friendly way. The unconventional solution was generating fuel by tons of waste garden pruning produced in the country, using a biomass generator. Wood ash is recycled into fertilizer while the smoke is treated into barely visible gas. Chimneys are disguised vertically in the Super Trees.

Youtube for Architects: World's Most Unique Garden: Gardens by the Bay by Megastructures by Free Documentary - Sheet5
Gardens by the Bay Section ©ArchDaily

The team behind one of the world’s most remarkable gardens truly defied engineering logic and created exciting sustainable technologies taming not just unstable ground but also the constantly changing weather to build such a unique megastructure. ‘Gardens by the Bay’ is an awe-inspiring marvel where cutting-edge engineering meets the green designs of tomorrow. It is a model of sustainability with an international showcase of flora which raised the bar for all future green spaces. 

This documentary is thoroughly informative and showcases the journey from initial assessment and construction to brainstorming possible solutions and highlighting the outcome of structure.

Link to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEDGrBy8Mnc

Author

Rashi Jain is an architect by profession and a writer by passion. She thinks every wall has a story that needs to be told. Her admirations vary from intricate sculptures of heritage buildings to the glamour of set designing. She believes that words have the power to change the world.

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