Huge Biomimetic ‘Supertrees’ Taking Root on Singapore’s Waterfront (Video)

Kimberley Mok

Jackerbie/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Vertical gardens are one effective way to enliven and maximize growing potential in cities, and we’ve seen them range in size from small, improvised projects to larger, official ones.

As part of Singapore’s masterplan to develop its Marina Bay area, these towering eighteen ‘Supertrees’ take vertical greenery a step further, integrating over 226,000 plants consisting of over 200 species with a host of other functions, like solar power and solar hot water generation, rainwater collection and acting as ventilation towers for the horticultural conservatories below.

© Munshi Ahmed

Jackerbie/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Designed by UK-based landscape architecture firm Grant Associates and nearing completion, the Supertree structures are an integral part of the Gardens by the Bay project. It’s the largest project of its kind being undertaken by the city, spanning 101 acres and comprising of three waterfront gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central, with the Supertrees residing in the 54-hectare Bay South.

Standing at 25 to 50 metres (82 to 164 feet) tall, the Supertrees are designed to be covered with diverse plants of all kinds, from climbers, flowers, bromeliads to epiphytes and ferns.

© Grant Associates

Conceived as “environmental engines” for the “city in a garden” below, these impressive structures are envisioned as a natural cooling system for the buildings below, while also biomimicking some of the ecological functions of trees: collecting and pumping water, absorbing and dispersing heat, and also generating electricity with solar photovoltaics. Some of the Supertrees will be connected with aerial walkways to allow visitors a lofty view, in addition to a panoramic bistro located on top of one of the trees.

© Grant Associates

Say the designers:

The masterplan takes its inspiration from the form of the orchid, and has an intelligent infrastructure that allows the cultivation of plants that would not otherwise grow in Singapore. The centrepiece of this infrastructure is the cluster of Cooled Conservatories along the edge of Marina Bay. The Cool Dry and the Cool Moist Conservatories showcase Mediterranean, tropical montane and temperate annual plants and flowering species. They also provide a flexible, flower-themed venue for events and exhibitions.

© Grant Associates

Slated to be both educational and entertaining for both locals and tourists, Phase I of the Gardens by the Bay project has been completed since last year, with the gardens expected to open in June 2012. More visitors’ information on the Gardens by the Bay website and at Grant Associates.

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