Garden of the Bay, Singapore

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Architects Wilkinson Eyre and structural engineers Atelier 10 reveals the master-plan for the Singapore’s garden project alongside the Marina Bay. This is a £350 million project on a 54 hectare site on Singapore Marina front. The scheme is a combination of buildings, conservatories, structures and gardens.

With a total covered area of 16,500m2, they will be among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world, employing low-energy and renewable systems. Each has its own distinct character, but both explore the horticulture of those environments most likely to be affected by climate change, the Mediterranean zone and tropical cloud forests. The cool-dry biome will tell the story of ‘plants and people’ in the Mediterranean zone, and how the plants cultivated in these regions will gradually become endangered as temperatures rise.

The adjacent cool-moist biome focuses on ‘plants and the planet’, highlighting how the warming of the cool tropical cloud forests will threaten the Earth1s biodiversity. The masterplan for Marina South forms part of Singapore’s new Gardens by the Bay development and will draw from the distinctive flora of the region to create a new destination in the city. It has been designed as a series of distinct ecosystems which will enable the gardens to function with maximum environmental efficiency, and to showcase those world habitats most at risk from climate change.

The envelopes of both biomes are critical to their success. Both are designed to allow as much light as possible to enter so that the plants within can flourish; the hybrid structure of a gridshell supported by giant steel arches was informed by extensive daylight analysis.

A central on-site energy centre will provide cooling and power to the biomes and the primary energy source for this will be waste wood. The National Parks Board is responsible for some 3 million trees in Singapore which generate about 5000 tonnes of timber clippings a month. Instead of being dumped this will be be chipped and burnt in a steam biomass boiler and used to drive the CHP system. Ash from the boiler will be re-used in the garden whilst heat from the CHP unit will be used to regenerate a liquid dessicant.

This dessicant will be used to remove moisture from the fresh air supply. This helps cut power consumption; dry air requires far less energy to cool it than moist air does.

Waste water from the dessicant circuit will be exhausted to the atmosphere through a flue concealed in the trunk of one of the on-site ‘Supertrees’. These giant steel and concrete sculptures will have planting around their trunks creating striking vertical gardens whilst their branches will also support solar hot water collectors, PV panels and rainwater harvesters. The tallest trees will contain lifts for access to a high level walkway and a treetop café.

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