The Gardens by the Bay in the merry month of May

24 05 2012

Thanks to the Gardens by the Bay, with several other photographers and bloggers, I had a chance to wander around the Bay South Garden of the Gardens by the Bay this May. Much of the Bay South Garden is still very much “work-in-progress” – a lot of planting and sprucing-up is still going on, but it was nice to see that most of the structures that add a sensational touch to the garden is up and turned up beautifully in photographs. One of the highlights of the Bay South Garden that we were able to see this time around which wasn’t accessible during the Cloud Forest media preview in early April was the aerial walkway at the Supertree Grove. The 128 metre walkway suspended some 22 metres above the ground, since named as the OCBC Skyway, offers a spectacular view of the gardens. OCBC which sponsors the OCBC Skyway also sponsors the “OCBC Light and Sound Show” – a light and sound show at the Supertree Grove. This will debut as one of the opening activities for Gardens by the Bay from 2 July 2012. The Bay South Gardens will open to the public from 29 June 2012.

The Cloud Forest and Supertree Grove as seen on a rain washed morning.

The Flower Dome seen from the OCBC Skyway.

The Cloud Forest.

Another view from the OCBC Skyway.

The Supertree Grove at dusk with the OCBC Skyway.

The view across the Dragonfly Lake at night.

Another view across the Dragonfly Lake.

A night time view of the Supertree Grove.

The Cloud Forest seen at night.

The OCBC Skyway.

The Bay South garden of the Gardens by the Bay will open to the public from 29 June 2012.





An ascent into the clouds

4 04 2012

Taking an elevator up to the top of a new world that will soon be added to the Marina Bay area in Singapore, a visitor is transported high up into a cloud forest 2000 metres above sea-level. It is a lost world that the doors of the elevator will open to, a world fed by a cool and moist climate in which carnivorous plants, ferns and mosses thrive with the accompaniment of sounds of a cascading waterfall. It was a world that I got a peek at yesterday at a preview of the Cloud Forest which is set within the Bay South Garden one of the three section Gardens by the Bay which will open to the public from 29 June 2012. The elevator that takes one up, doesn’t of course travel that 2000 metres, climbing six floors or 35 metres up a man-made ‘mountain’ right on top of which the Lost World is found. The ‘mountain’, Cloud Mountain, that greets the visitor to the Cloud Forest, the taller of the two cooled conservatories in the Bay South Garden (the other being the Flower Dome), is one that will come the opening of the garden, be covered in lush vegetation and feature some 130,000 plants found in high altitude tropical zones such as on Mount Kinabalu and the mountain regions of tropical Africa and South America.

The Cloud Forest, one of two cooled conservatories at the soon-to-be opened Gardens by the Bay takes one on an ascent up into the clouds. Members of the media were given a preview of the conservatory in which the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions 1000 to 3500 metres above sea level is replicated.

The Bay South Garden, just across from Marina Bay Sands, will open to the public on 29 June 2012.

The Cloud Forest has some 2577 glass panels spread over the 12000 square metre of its surface.

The 58 metre high glass panelled structure which is the Cloud Forest is one within which the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions between 1000 and 3500 metres above sea level is replicated and besides the Lost World right on top of the man-made ‘mountain’ inside the amazing structure which features some 2577 glass panels of 690 varying shapes and sizes laid over its surface ares of 12000 square metres, is where one discovers eight other unique zones. The nine zones will offer a variety of experiences that aims to provide the visitor with a sense of the biodiversity and ecology of the so-called cloud forests and the various threats the environments they exist in now face. The eight other zones are the Cloud Walk, The Cavern, Waterfall View, Crystal Mountain, Tree Top Walk, Earth Check, +5 Degrees and Secret Garden.

An artist's impression of the inside of the Cloud Forest which features a 35 metre 'Cloud Mountain' with a 30 metre waterfall (image: Gardens by the Bay).

An external view of the Cloud Forest.

The inside of the Cloud Forest today - very much work that is still in progress.

The Lost World will feature carnivorous plants including pitcher-plants.

Ferns already thriving in the Lost World.

The Lost World, as well as the rest of the Cloud Forest, is still work-in-progress as it is being readied for the official launch of the Bay South Garden which will take place on 28 June 2012 (the garden will be opened to the public from 29 June 2012).

The waterfall flows down from the Lost World.

While the Cloud Forest is very much still ‘work-in-progress’ with it’s primary structure complete with finishing touches being put to it and with it in a ‘planting stage’, it wasn’t hard to visualise what it would be like when it opens in June. Besides the spray of the 30 metre high waterfall on yesterday’s visitors, I could also see that some of the ferns, flowering plants and carnivorous plants of the Lost World seemed to already be thriving. We also got to have a feel of the Cloud Walk – which takes visitors down a cantilevered walkway from the Lost World to the world down below it. Walking down the open metal gratings of the walkway, it wasn’t hard to imagine the view it will offer not just of the epiphytic plants that will clad the side of the ‘mountain’ when completed, but also the sensory experience of the descent down the mountain and the spectacular views of the inside and outside of the Cloud Forest.

The 30 metre high waterfall down the 'mountain' in the Cloud Forest.

The Cloud Walk which takes one on a descent down a cantilevered walkway on the outside of the 'mountain'.

The view downwards from the Cloud Walk.

Another view of the Cloud Walk (and the Tree Top Walk far below).

The descent down the Cloud Walk leads one towards The Cavern inside the ‘mountain’ – an education zone where visitors are able to learn more about the cloud forests, as well as to the back of the waterfall – the Waterfall View that prompts the visitor to consider the importance of fresh water and how cloud forests are able to capture water droplets from mist and fog. It is also on the inside that one finds the Crystal Mountain – where one is surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites typical of caves which are a common feature of mountains. Here the visitor will find a showcase on the formation of the continents, the age of the earth and the role that fossils play in helping us understand our planet’s past.

A view of the waterfall from inside the 'mountain'.

The Cavern will feature stalactites and stalagmites.

Planks for scaffolding inside The Cavern.

Another walkway that the Cloud Forest will feature is the Tree Top Walk which will take visitors, as the name suggests, over a tree canopy. Besides this, visitors will also find a special lab which provides a view of the state of the earth today and the threats to the earth from climate change and habitat loss – Earth Check. +5 Degrees will provide an experience of the effects of temperature increase due to climate change and Secret Garden at the foot of the mountain is a gentle ravine walk through a narrow gorge that provides visitors close to once abundant but now threatened plants.

The glass panels of the Cloud Forest being cleaned.

Besides the cool climate of the cloud forests which will be maintained in the conservatory between 23 and 25 degrees C, we got a feel of what the garden will be like. Again, that is very much work-in-progress. Along with the Heritage Gardens, the Dragonfly Bridge and Dragonfly Lake which was opened to the public during the 20th World Orchid Conference World Orchid Show in November last year, we also were taken through the World of Plants. This along with the Flower Dome, a sneak peek of which was given in November, and the Supertrees of the Golden Garden, Silver Garden and the Supertree Grove and Kingfisher Lake will be ready when the 54 hectare Bay South Garden opens in June. The Supertrees of the Supertree Grove will feature a cable suspended Aerial Walkway which we got to see for the first time yesterday.

A view of the Dragonfly Lake today from the Dragonfly Bridge.

The view of the clusters of 'Supertrees' around the Dragonfly Lake.

In conjunction with the opening (the official launch will be on 28 June 2012 and the garden opened to the public from 29 June 2012), events will be held in the garden over a period spanning two weekends from 29 June to 8 July 2012. The events will include live concerts by Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz and Corrine May, and other activities that include an outdoor movie under the stars.

The suspended Aerial Walkway on the Supertrees of the Supertree Grove.

The Bay South Garden will be opened from 5 am to 2 am daily and the cooled conservatories and aerial walkway in the Supertree Grove will open from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Admission to the Bay South Garden will be free, while admission charges will apply for the cooled conservatories and aerial walkway. Rates for local residents for entry to a single conservatory are S$12 (adults), S$8 (senior citizens above 60 years old / children 3-12 years old). Entry to two conservatories will cost local residents S$20 (adults), S$15 (senior citizens above 60 years old), S$12 (children 3-12 years old) and non-residents S$28 (adults), S$15 (children 3-12 years old). Discounts will be available for holders of PAssion Card, NTUC Plus! Card, SAFRA Card and Home Team NS Card. For entry to the Aerial Walkway, rates will be S$5 for adults and S$3 for children. Annual passes will also be available and in conjunction with the Singapore Garden Festival from 7 to 15 July 2012, a joint promotion will be held which offers discounted entry to the conservatories and for the Festival.


Information on Jason Mraz’s and Corrine May’s Live Concerts

Ticket prices (excluding SISTIC charges) for Jason Mraz’s 29 June 2012 Concert are S$98 (purchased before event day) or S$112 (purchased at the door on event day itself) and Corrine May’s 30 June 2012 Concert are S$38 (purchased before event day) / S$45 (purchased at the door on event day itself). Ticket sales start on 20 April 2012 at 9am (online) and 10am (at SISTIC booths).






The new light in the old harbour

29 11 2011

There’s a new world out there, right where the flicker of the dim lights of the hundreds of ships at anchor and where the occasional moving of beam from the top of Fullerton Building would have once swept across. Built on a large finger of land that had been reclaimed from what had mostly been the Outer Roads of the harbour, the finger of land now also forms part of what encloses what is now Marina Bay – and is perhaps where Singapore’s transformation to a modern new city would best be seen. It is in place of the dim lights of the ships, that the glow of a new world has begun to emerge, first with the Marina Bay Sands complex and now across the expressway at the soon to be completed Gardens by the Bay. It is at the Gardens, of which we had a sneak peek at during the recently concluded 20WOC World Orchid Show, where a fantasy land of illuminated structures that look like they come from a set of a sci-fi movie will emerge, which on the evidence of the preview, would certainly be something to look forward to when the Gardens by the Bay opens in June 2012.

A new world emerges out of what had once been the harbour. Supertrees llluminate the nightscape at the Gardens by the Bay under the gaze of the Marina Bay Sands complex and a rain cloud laden sky.

Changing hues of the Supertrees.

The view across the Dragonfly Lake from the Dragonfly Bridge.

The Chinese Garden - part of the Heritage Gardens.

Frames of the Flower Dome by night.





A sneak peek at the Gardens by the Bay

13 11 2011

Latest updates and a preview of Cloud Forest
Latest updates (from a 3 Apr 2012 Media Preview) on the Gardens by the Bay’s Bay South Gardens opening, opening hours, admission rates and the Cloud Forest can be found in this post: An ascent into the clouds.


It is hard not to notice that massive project that is being undertaken by the National Parks Board (NParks) to create a garden in the Marina Bay area that is part of a greater effort to transform Singapore from a ‘Garden City’ to a ‘City in a Garden’ with the obvious signs from the sprouting of the supertrees that are very visible in the area. Occupying 101 hectares of prime land by the waterside in Singapore’s new downtown, the Gardens by the Bay will, when the first phase is completed in June 2012, offer visitors an opportunity to savour a 54 hectare site at the Bay South, just across the East Coast Parkway from the Marina Bay Integrated Resort, designed by UK-based landscape architecture firm Grant Associates, that will offer Horticultural Themed Gardens, Supertrees and a chance to experience the environments of the cool-dry springtime climates of the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions as well as the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions such as in Mount Kinabalu in two cooled glass conservatories.

It is hard not to notice the futuristic looking glass domes, and ...

... the sprouting of the Supertrees.

Several of us were able to have a sneak peek at what will be on offer at the Gardens by the Bay, which will feature as one of the venues in the 20th World Orchid Conference (20WOC) World Orchid Show, which Singapore is hosting for the second time this November, yesterday. What we were able to see were the sections which were made ready for the preview – the Heritage Gardens, Dragonfly Lake (and Dragonfly Bridge which connects the strip of land between the ECP to the Gardens), the Supertrees at the Golden and Silver Gardens and one of the cooled Conservatories – the Flower Dome, which features some never seen before and thoroughly fascinating plants from the cool-dry Mediterranean and semi-arid climates around the world.

The foliage of Supertrees, which are tree-like structures 25 to 50 metres in height are vertical gardens with an emphasis on creating a 'wow' factor, seen with a natural tree.

The preview, which was for members of the media, started with a briefing chaired by the CEO of Gardens by the Bay, Dr Kiat W. Tan and the COO, Mr Kenneth Er. We were guided through a plan of the Gardens and the features of each area of the Gardens – which would cost approximately SGD 1 billion to build. The Gardens by the Bay would include the current area of focus, the Bay South area, as well as a 32 hectare site at Bay East which is being designed by another UK firm Gustafson Porter, and Bay Central – which will have a 3 km waterfront promenade that will offer stunning views of the city.

The Dragonfly Lake with the Supertrees at the Silver Garden in the background as seen from the Dragonfly Bridge.

Next it was a preview of the opened parts of the Gardens itself, which we were told, needed a huge effort to get ready for the WOC sneak preview, which will include the Flower Dome, where there is a display of some 14,000 orchids – 150 hybrids and 30 species from around the world which include Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and South America.

One of the parts of the Gardens by the Bay opened for the sneak preview was the Flower Dome.

The external areas we had access to did appear to be short of tree cover and shade, and perhaps a little too much concrete for a garden – perhaps as the space was one that was created to blend in with the area and one that required itself to be different from the existing parks and gardens. The fact that the garden was new was another factor and perhaps a more garden-like feel to the garden would come as the trees in the garden matures. The Heritage Gardens was an interesting concept, and allows visitors to move through spaces that are connected with the three major ethnic groups that featured in the development of Singapore as well as with the colonial establishment, with plants and trees which feature in the cultural practices and cooking of the respective ethnic groups.

A sculpture in the Chinese Garden - to represent the numerous Chinese who have left their homeland to seek a better life elsewhere.

A rockery with palms and cycads in the Chinese Garden.

The highlight for me was the visit to the Flower Dome, which covers an area of 1.2 hectares (or 2.2 football fields) under a steel frame supported glass structure which features 3,332 glass panels of 42 varying shapes and sizes and is 45 metres high. What was interesting to learn during the briefing about the Flower Dome – and the smaller neighbouring Cloud Forest (which isn’t completed yet), was of the innovative cooling system which makes use of biomass from horticultural waste generated by NPark’s parks and gardens. An holistic approach is also taken to maintain both temperature and humidity, resulting in an estimated 30% savings in energy consumption compared to conventional methods which also involves:

  • Minimising solar heat gain while allowing maximum light through the use of spectrally selective glass and light sensor operated shadings,
  • Cooling only of the occupied areas through thermal stratification which ensures cool air settles on the ground and warmer air is vented to the upper levels, and,
  • An efficient dehumidification process which de-couples the de-humidification of air from the cooling process using a liquid dessicant to first remove moisture.

Innovative energy efficient methods involving the use of NPark's own biomass waste is used to cool the Conservatories.

Chilled water pipes run below the Flower Dome to cool the ground.

Walking into the cool Flower Dome, one can’t help but be impressed with what has been achieved, as well as with the visual treat provided by the curved glass and steel roof. The Flower Dome is arranged to move the visitor from one cool-dry region to another, from semi-arid regions that represent areas such as the Australian Bush, South Africa, South America, the United States and Madagascar to the springtime climate of the Mediterranean. On display are Baobabs (Bottle Trees), Ghost Trees, Cacti and Succulents, as well as the fire adapted plants of the Australian Garden, the moisture rich plants such as various species of Aloe Vera in the South African Garden, the trees of the Mediterranean region in the Olive Grove such such Fig and Olive Trees, as well as some fascinating trees such as the Monkey Puzzle Tree and the Chilean Wine Palm in the South American Garden.

The Baobabs.

The Succulent Garden.

Cacti in the Succulent Garden.

A Ghost Tree - planted near graveyards in Madagascar and is said to have medicinal uses.

An Aloe plant in the South African Garden.

The leaves and branches of the Monkey Puzzle Tree - so named because a UK based specimen owner remarked that it would 'puzzle a monkey to climb the tree'.

Chilean Wine Palms - natives used to fall the trees to harvest the sap which is used to make an alcoholic beverage.

The highlight for me - 1000 year old olive trees in the Olive Grove. The trees were ones that were affected by development in Spain and transported by refrigerated container to Singapore.

The trunk of an Olive Tree.

The Flower Dome also features a Flower Field, which will feature changing displays of flowers to reflect different seasons, themes and festivals – including its current display of orchids for the WOC. The Flower Dome will also see two F&B outlets, as well as an event space for 800 to 1000 people. The event space will be used to host a gala dinner for the WOC.

The Flower Field in the Flower Dome which will feature changing displays of flowers to reflect different seasons, festivals and themes. It currently displays orchids for the 20th WOC.

Phalaenopsis on display in the Flower Field of the Flower Dome during the WOC.

More Phalaenopsis on display.

And yet more!

Visitors to the WOC would be able to visit the Flower Dome for a sneak preview during a one week period from the 14th to the 20th of November with a ticket to the WOC. Further to this, visitors as well as members of the public without admission tickets to the 20WOC World Orchid Show would also be have a look at the external areas of the Gardens by the Bay which are ready. Information on the 20WOC World Orchid Show, including admission and ticketing, can be found at the 20WOC’s site. Further information on the Gardens by the Bay can be found at their website.








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