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Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. Gardens by the Bay is an integral part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”. The stated aim is to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

First announced to the public by Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally in August 2005, Gardens by the Bay is intended to become Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space, and a national icon.

An international competition for the design of the master plan, held in January 2006, attracted more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries. Two firms – Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter – were eventually awarded the master plan design for the Bay South and Bay East Gardens respectively.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

The project overview:

Located in Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay is a key project in delivering the Singapore Government’s vision of transforming Singapore into a ‘City in a Garden’. At a total of 101 hectares, the Gardens by the Bay project comprises three distinct waterfront gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. The commission to design the 54 hectare Bay South garden was won in 2006 by a team led by Grant Associates and including Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Atelier One, Atelier Ten, Land Design and Davis Langdon and Seah.

At the heart of Bay South Garden is the Cooled Conservatory Complex which is the focal point of the Gardens. The two main Conservatories cover an area in excess of 20,000sq m and are among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world. They provide a spectacular, all-weather attraction and comprise a 1.28 hectare cool dry conservatory (the ‘Flower Dome’) and a 0.73 hectare cool moist conservatory (the ‘Cloud Forest’). Each has its own distinct character, but both explore the horticulture of those environments most likely to be affected by climate change.

The Flower Dome tells the story of plants and people in the Mediterranean climate zone, and how the plants cultivated in these regions will gradually become endangered as temperatures rise. It has a planted footprint of more than 10,100 sq m and aims to bring alive the experience of seasonal change for visitors more used to Singapore’s eternally tropical climate and lush green vegetation. From the lavender fields and olive groves of the Cultivated Worlds section to the baobab and pachypodium trees in the Strange Worlds area, the visitor is presented with a unique collection of plants. The landform of the conservatories draws inspiration from Mediterranean landscapes and evokes the language of dry, sun-baked hillsides punctuated with rocky terraces and stony outcrops, and the intimate bond between land, geology, vegetation and cultivation. At the centre of this permanent display is the Flower Field – a vast carpet of flowers in bloom which will change seasonally.

The Cloud Forest highlights the relationship between plants and the planet, showing how the warming of the cool tropical cloud forests will threaten biodiversity. With a smaller footprint but greater height than Flower Dome, it has at its heart a planted ‘Mountain’ from which a 35m high waterfall drops. Visitors can experience the forest at different levels from a Cloud Walk, a Canopy Walk and the Forest Floor and Ravine Walks. Within the mountain, a series of exhibition spaces describe 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 in mist.

Both conservatories have a dual system structure of gridshell and arches to permit as much light as possible through to the planted displays within. The gridshell portion is very fragile (like an egg) and is designed to only support its own weight and the weight of the glass. 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, lightweight clear-span structure which, in the shallower slope of the Flower Dome, is thought to be among the largest gridshells in the world.

Bay South Garden is built on reclaimed land, a low lying, flat area on the shore of Marina Bay. In the absence of a natural landscape the conservatories are envisaged as landforms, a pair of artificial landmarks that prominently address the bay and the skyscrapers of dense urban districts around it.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Bay Central Garden:

Bay Central Garden will act as a link between Bay South and Bay East Gardens. It stands at 15 hectares (37 acres) with a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) waterfront promenade that allows for scenic walks stretching from the city centre to the east of Singapore. More future developments of Bay Central Garden are coming in the next few years.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Bay East Garden:

Bay East Garden is 32 hectares (79 acres) in size and it has a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) promenade frontage that embroiders the Marina Reservoir. An interim park was developed at Bay East Garden in support of the 2010 Youth Summer Olympics. The first phase of the garden was opened to the public in October 2011, allowing alternate access to the Marina Barrage.

Designed as a series of large tropical leaf-shaped gardens, each with its own specific landscaping design, character and theme. There will be five water inlets aligned with the prevailing wind direction, maximizing and extending the shoreline while allowing wind and water to penetrate the site to help cool areas of activity around them. Bay East Garden will provide visitors with an unobstructed view of the city skyline. More future developments of Bay East Garden will be based on the theme of water.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Bay South Garden:

Bay South Garden eventually completed and opened to the public on June 29, 2012.[3]It is the largest of the three gardens at 54 hectares (130 acres) and aims to showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry.

The overall concept of its master plan draws inspiration from an orchid as it is representative of the tropics and of Singapore, being the country’s national flower, the Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’. The orchid takes root at the waterfront (conservatories), while the leaves (landforms), shoots (paths, roads and linkways) and secondary roots (water, energy and communication lines) then form an integrated network with blooms (theme gardens and supertrees) at key intersections.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography


The conservatory complex comprises two cooled conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, situated along the edge of Marina Reservoir. The conservatories are intended to be an energy efficient showcase of sustainable building technologies and to provide an all-weather edutainment space within the Gardens.

The Flower Dome is the larger of the two, at 1.2 hectares (3.0 acres). It replicates cool dry conditions and will feature permanent displays of plants found in the Mediterranean and semi-arid tropical regions. A changing display field has also been incorporated to enable flower shows and displays to be held within the conservatory. The Cloud Forest is slightly smaller at 0.8 hectares (2.0 acres). It replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions between 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above sea level. It features a “Cloud Mountain”, accessible by an elevator, and visitors will be able to descend the mountain via a circular path where a 35-metre (115 ft) waterfall provides visitors with refreshing cool air.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography


Supertrees are tree-like structures that dominate the Gardens’ landscape with heights that range between 25 metres (82 ft) and 50 metres (160 ft). They are vertical gardens that perform a multitude of functions, which include planting, shading and working as environmental engines for the gardens.

The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads such as Tillandsia, amongst other plants. They are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees – photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesize; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, just like how trees absorb rainwater for growth. The Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems.

There is an elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, between two of the larger Supertrees for visitors to enjoy a breathtaking aerial view of the Gardens. A food and beverage outlet is planned atop the 50-metre (160 ft) Supertree. At night, the Supertrees come alive with a light and music show called the OCBC Garden Rhapsody.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Horticultural themed gardens:

There are two distinctly different sets of horticultural themed gardens which centre on the relationships between “Plants and People” and “Plants and Planet”. They are an important part of the Gardens’ edutainment programme, which aims to bring plant knowledge to the public.

The “Plants and People” theme features a Heritage Garden that highlights the various cultural groups in Singapore and the important role that plants play in their respective cultures, as well as the country’s colonial history. It also focuses on economically important plants to Singapore and South East Asia.

The “Plants and Planet” theme emphasizes the web of relationships amongst the various plants within a fragile forest setting, showcasing the biodiversity of plant life on the planet.

Flower Market and main event space (Phase 2 of development):

The Flower Market will eventually be the main entry precinct into the Gardens. It will include an indoor events space, retail and various food & beverage outlets. The main event space is a 2-hectare (4.9-acre) outdoor lawn with a stage.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Planning considerations in the design of Bay South:

Several plans for key pedestrian and vehicular linkages from the surrounding developments and public transport hubs have been put in place to increase accessibility and create a transition between the Gardens and its surrounding landscape.

Landforms were designed so that prevailing winds will create spaces with gentle breezes. In addition, tree canopies, plant trellises and other man-made structures such as the cooled conservatories and Supertrees will provide shade and shelter in most parts of the Gardens.

A sustainable garden that cares for the environment:

The Gardens have been designed with the environment in mind, adopting environmentally sustainable technologies. In particular, the cooled conservatories are intended to be a statement in sustainable engineering and energy efficiency.

A lake system which takes into account the aesthetics and hydrology within the Gardens’ catchment has been incorporated into the Gardens’ design. It serves to capture run-off from within the Gardens and acts as a natural “eco-filter”, cleansing the water using aquatic plants before the water is discharged into the reservoir.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

A Great British Collaboration:

Following an international design competition, a team led by landscape architecture firm Grant Associates was appointed in 2006 by the National Parks Board of Singapore to masterplan Bay South Garden, the first and largest of the three planned gardens at Gardens by the Bay.

Alongside lead designers Grant Associates, the British design team for Bay South includes Wilkinson Eyre (architects); Atelier Ten (environmental design consultants); Atelier One (structural engineers); Land Design Studio (museum and visitor center designers) and Thomas Matthews (communication designers).

A Fusion of Nature and Technology:

Taking inspiration from the form of the orchid, Grant Associates’ masterplan is a rich fusion of nature, technology and environmental management. Stunning architectural structures are combined with a wide variety of horticultural displays, daily light and sound shows, lakes, forests, event spaces and a host of dining and retail offerings. The whole plan has an intelligent environmental infrastructure, allowing endangered plants, which could not normally grow in Singapore to flourish, providing both leisure and education to the nation.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Grant Associates

Bay South is a 54 Hectare garden located next to the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort in Singapore, forming the largest garden at Gardens by the Bay. Grant Associates was the lead consultant for the winning competition entry and the subsequent masterplan. This lively and vibrant garden showcases the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry with mass displays of tropical flowers and coloured foliage, sculptural theme gardens, spectacular vertical gardens and two Cooled Conservatories.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

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master plan – © Grant Associates & Wilkinson Eyre Architects

Wilkinson Eyre Architects:

This project was won in an international design competition as part of a team led by landscape architects Grant Associates. 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 garden at Marina South will be home to some of the site’s most spectacular structures, including two cooled conservatories which will be among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world. The cool-dry conservatory will explore issues related to plants and people, whilst the cool-moist conservatory will focus on plants and the planet.

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© Craig Sheppard Photography

Project Data:

Project name: Gardens by the Bay
Location: Marina Bay, Singapore
Coordinates: 1.282023, 103.863909
Type: Park, Waterfront
Site Area: 101 ha (250 acres)
Status: Completed – Open daily

  • Opens 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM daily
  • Last ticket sale at 8:00 PM daily
  • Last admission at 8:30 PM daily

Project value: £350 million
Completion Year: Bay South will open to the public on 29 June 2012.
Visit Gardens by the Bay’s Website:here


  • 2012 – World Architecture Festival Award – Display Category – World Building of the Year – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: National Parks Board
Architects: Wilkinson Eyre Architects, 33 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0BJ, UK
Responsible for:

  • Lead design for the Cooled Conservatories, associated infrastructure and central Visitor’s Hub
  • Design of the bar and vertical access for the 50m Supertree
  • Concept design of principal buildings within Bay South Garden

Landscape Architects: Grant Associates, 22 Milk Street, Bath BA1 1UT, London, UK
Responsible for:

  • Assembly of the core design team
  • Overall masterplanning of Bay South Garden, project co-ordination, detail design and implementation
  • Design of internal Cooled Conservatories landscape experience
  • Design of Supertrees including the aerial walkway
  • Design of Themed Gardens and horticultural structures

Environmental design consultants and building services engineers: Atelier Ten, UK
Responsible for:

  • Environmental design consulting
  • Building services engineering
  • Daylight analysis
  • Energy and Thermal modeling
  • Central energy infrastructure

Structural engineering: Atelier One, UK
Responsible for:

  • Structural engineering design for the Supertrees
  • Structural engineering design for the aerial walkway
  • Structural engineering design for Cooled Conservatories enclosures
  • Structural engineering design for other structures throughout the site

Interpretation and educational public interface: Land Design Studio, UK
Branding and signage: Thomas Matthews, UK
Design Management: BuroFour, UK
Films, Animations: Squint Opera, UK
Cost Consultancy: Langdon & Seah Singapore Pte Ltd
Lighting design: Lighting Planners Associates (LPA), Japan
Engineering support: Meinhardt (Infrastructure) Pte Ltd
Architecture and Engineering support: CPG Corporation
Project Management: PM Link
Irrigation design: WET (Water Equipment Technology)
Text Description: © Courtesy of Grant Associates, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, gardensbythebay
Images: © Craig Sheppard Photography, Grant Associates,  Wilkinson Eyre Architects

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Gardens by the Bay / Grant Associates & Wilkinson Eyre Architects
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