The glass- domed conservatories in the Gardens by the Bay, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, have a dual system structure like that of a gridshell to permit as much light as possible inside to the planted displays. Credit: Dhonsky357 (D357) Busyness/Wikipedia Commons.
The Supertree Grove lights up at night and gives an ethereal look to the Gardens. Credit: Erwin Soo/Wikipedia Commons.
The Cloud Forest is a 35m-high mountain representing the flora of a moist climate, located at a height of 1,000m to 3,500m above sea level. Credit: Allie Caulfield/ Wikipedia Commons.

Gardens by the Bay is a theme garden located in Marina Bay, Singapore, operated by the National Parks Board, a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development of the Government of Singapore.

It consists of parks, restaurants and event spaces designed around the concept of a garden. The phased development of the garden comprised the Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and the Bay Central Garden.

The idea to build the Gardens by the Bay was first declared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in August 2005. The project aimed to transform Singapore into a global city by raising the standard of living and creating open green spaces where people can enjoy leisure time and work. The waterfront gardens reflect the tropical flora of Singapore and protect the environment.

The construction of Bay South Garden started in 2007, followed by that of Bay East.

The Bay East Garden was opened for a brief period in 2010 to host the rowing and canoeing events of the Youth Olympic Games and finally opened to the public in 2011. The Gardens by the Bay was finally unveiled in June 2012.

Gardens by the Bay details

The entire Gardens by the Bay covers an area of 101 hectares (ha).

The Bay South Garden is spread across 54ha. It comprises a grove of Supertrees, two cooled conservatories named the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, two gardens known as the Heritage Garden and the World of Plants, which depict Singapore’s history, and two lakes.

In addition, it has two open spaces, called Meadow and Silver Leaf, for hosting outdoor events such as cocktail parties, corporate gatherings, sports events, family occasions, community functions and carnivals.

It also has two horticulture-themed gardens consisting of two lakes, named Dragonfly and Kingfisher. The shops and themed restaurants make the Bay South Garden a financial hub, as well as a place to generate employment.

The Bay East Garden consists of three open spaces, Promenade Lawn, Central Grove and Palm Grove, used to host events.

Supertrees features

The Supertrees are manmade structures that resemble mature trees 25m to 50m in height, supporting 162,900 tropical climbing plants of 200 species from various tropical countries, such as Brazil.

There are 18 Supertrees, 12 of which are placed in the grove while the remaining six line the entry point of the garden and the Dragonfly Lake in clusters of three.

The Supertrees come to life in the evening when they twinkle in rhythm to a soundtrack and their branches are illuminated against the inky night sky.

Flower Dome and Cloud Forest features

The conservatories feature the world’s largest column-less greenhouses, accommodating more than 250,000 species of plants.

The Flower Dome exhibits Mediterranean plants and has an indoor events space, as well as food and beverage outlets.

The Flower Dome holds a 2015 Guinness World Record for the largest glass greenhouse in the world.

The Cloud Forest represents the flora of a moist climate of a region located at a height of 1,000m to 3,500m above sea level. It contains a 35m-high mountain with a waterfall.

It highlights the relationship between plants and the planet, depicting that the warming of the cool tropical cloud forests will threaten biodiversity.

With a smaller footprint but a greater height than Flower Dome, it has a planted “mountain” at its heart from which a 35m high waterfall drops.

Each glass conservatory measures 16,000m² and is made up of more than 3,300 individual glass panels, providing a clear view of the Marina Bay skyline.

The visitors can experience the forest at different levels: a Cloud Walk, a Canopy Walk, and Forest Floor and Ravine Walks.

A series of exhibition spaces within the Mountain describes the impact of incremental temperature change and the sustainable technologies employed across the gardens, while at its foot is the Ravine, a series of darkened secret gardens surrounded by mist.

Gardens by the Bay structure details

The Bay South Garden’s layout design resembles an orchid.

The footpaths and links form the stem of the flower, the buildings and other facilities form the root, while the main garden resembles the orchid flower and its leaves.

The inner vertical structure that supports the Supertree is made of reinforced concrete, the steel frame that envelopes the reinforced concrete forms the trunk. Planting panels are placed in this trunk to allow the climbing plants to grow on it.

The conservatories, designed by Wilkinson Eyre, an architectural firm based in the UK, offer a cool and dry climate from the domes covered with glass panels and can house 22,600 varieties of endangered plant species from different continents.

The conservatories have a dual system structure just like that of a gridshell and arches to permit as much light as possible through to the planted displays within.

The gridshell portion is fragile like an egg and is designed to only support its own weight and the weight of the glass.

The wind loads are resisted by the arches that are set away from the surface of the envelope and arranged radially in line with the geometry of the gridshell.

This structural combination creates a distinctive and lightweight clear-span structure, which is considered to be among the largest gridshells in the world.

The Meadow open event space can accommodate 30,000 people. The Silver Leaf is located under the grove of silver-coloured Supertrees. The design of the Heritage Garden and the World of Plants was inspired by the ideas of “Plants and People” and “Plants and Planet”.

The UK-based landscape architect Grant Associates, in collaboration with Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), unveiled a 128m-long aerial walkway, where visitors can view the garden from a height of 22m. The walkway is suspended from the 50m-high Supertrees and gives a bird’s eye view of the entire garden.

The Bay East Garden is designed to accommodate up to 8,000 people and the Promenade Lawn has an area of 3,000m² and seats for 10,000 people.

The Central Grove occupies 6,000m² and fits 2,000 people during events.

The Palm Grove with swaying palms covers 10,000m² of space and has a seating capacity of 30,000 people.

Ambience details

The Bay East Garden is a lot quieter than the Bay South Garden and visitors can sit back, relax and enjoy the surrounding views.

There are clusters of colourful leaves and flowers displayed in the open spaces to capture the visitors’ attention.

The canopies of the man-made Supertrees light up at nightfall to give the garden a dream-like look. Light and sound shows are conducted in the grove, while the canopy is shaped like inverted umbrellas.

The colour schemes of the Supertrees vary between red, brown, orange, yellow, silver and gold.

A food and beverage outlet designed by Wilkinson Eyre is at the top of a 50m Supertree.

The Meadow, shaped like a flower bowl, gives visitors views of the grove of Supertrees and the conservatories.

Sustainability features of Gardens by the Bay

The design of the Gardens by The Bay has incorporated many sustainable features.

Photovoltaic cells are planted in the Supertrees to store solar energy for lighting up the trees at night, while rainwater harvesting and air exhausts are provided for cooling conservatories.

The conservatories use thermal stratification to lift warm air and allow cool air to stay on the ground, therefore preventing the use of electricity and air-conditioners to cool their interiors.

Chilled water pipes covered with ground slabs cool the floor of the two domes, with the waste heat generated by the water chillers used to run the liquid desiccant, which dehumidifies and cools the air without wasting any energy.

The plant wastes are used to operate a combined heat and power biomass steam turbine that helps to co-generate electricity.

A high-performance glass that allows only 65% of the sunlight and 35% of its heat energy is used to address the greenhouse effect.

Electrically controlled vents allow the heat generated inside to escape.

On days when sunlight levels are high, rolled fabric sails with light-sensitive sensors unfurl from the steel arcs of the structures to provide more shade.

Contractors involved

Wilkinson Eyre was involved as architect in the project. The overall master plan and design of the Bay South Garden was provided by Grant Associates, with the assistance of Wilkinson Eyre.

Atelier One, a British structural engineering company, provided the structural engineering designs, while Atelier Ten, an environmental design consulting company based in the UK, made the garden environmentally sustainable and Light Design Studio was responsible for the unique lighting of the garden.

Other companies involved in the project were L&W Construction, a construction engineering company, Taikisha Singapore, a mechanical engineering company, Arup, a design company, and Buro Four, a construction project management and consultancy services provider.

Thomas Matthews, a communication design studio, Meinhardt, a construction engineering company, Transsolar, a climate engineering company, Lumenpulse, a lighting solutions provider, and PM Link, a project management company, are among the other contractors involved.