Gardens by the Bay marks first 10 years; lead designer campaigns for more nature and biodiversity within cities
The landscape architect behind Singapore’s iconic Supertrees and the current Tower of London Superbloom display is calling for more city spaces to be turned over to nature in order to boost biodiversity, tourism and wellbeing.
As globally-recognised tourist attraction Gardens by the Bay celebrates its 10th anniversary this week in Singapore, Andrew Grant RDI, founder of pioneering landscape architecture practice Grant Associates and lead designer on the world-renowned project, believes that it is more important than ever before for biodiversity-rich green spaces to be intentionally cultivated in order to combat the climate emergency:
“Gardens by the Bay demonstrates the possibility of using landscapes, plants and nature to create powerful places where people can come together and be inspired. The whole project’s approach to integrated planning and design serves to signify Singapore as the City in a Garden; Gardens by the Bay is the perfect fusion of nature, technology and art and its legacy and impact is sizeable ten years on. Its success shows how, as landscape architects, we can positively influence and transform cityscapes into areas that add more value to people and planet, supporting human wellbeing and fuelling urban biodiversity.”
Andrew was the lead designer on the project, and was subsequently awarded the title of RDI Royal Designer for Industry in recognition of his global work. Now a founding member of the UK Landscape Architects Declare, a movement for landscape architects around the world to act in response to the climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse, his environmentally-focused work has now extended into the Tower of London Superbloom project, the biggest transformation to the Tower of London’s historic moat in 150 years.
Based in both Bath, UK and Singapore, Grant Associates led a competition-winning team in 2006 for Gardens by the Bay to design the 54 hectares (130 acres) of £500m Bay South Garden in Singapore, the first and largest of the three gardens at Gardens by the Bay, for NParks. The first phase of this dramatic project opened to the public on 29th June, 2012.
Since opening, millions of visitors have been wowed annually by the attraction, in particular by 18 visually stunning ‘Supertrees’ - measuring between 25 and 50 metres high - which serve as vertical gardens displaying tropical flowering climbers, epiphytes and ferns. At night, these canopies come alive with lighting and projected media, with an aerial suspended walkway offering visitors a truly unique perspective on the gardens.
“Gardens by the Bay is a landscape spectacle based on plant diversity and which provides visitors with a first hand appreciation of so many aspects of the natural world that are becoming endangered as our planet continues to be placed under such huge pressure. Our brief as a design team from day one was to deliver a one-of-a-kind botanic garden offering visitors from Singapore and around the world the chance to experience plants and natural habitats that they wouldn’t otherwise get to experience, both outside and within giant biomes.”
One of the largest garden projects in the world, the Bay South Garden masterplan took inspiration from Singapore’s national flower, the orchid, expressing the beauty of these flowers through the exotic gardens and the physiology of the orchid through the sophisticated infrastructure for managing energy, water and waste.
The nature-focused attraction has won numerous coveted awards since opening, including being named ‘Best Large Scale Public Development’ by the Landscape Institute Awards, the RIBA Lubetkin Prize for ‘Best New International Building’ and ‘Building Project of the Year’ at the 2012 World Architecture Festival. Incorporating cutting edge environmental design and sustainable development principles, Gardens by the Bay is an integral part of Singapore’s 'City in a Garden' biodiversity model.
Since opening in 2012, more than 50 million visits have been made to Gardens by the Bay, with close to 6.6 million visitors in 2020 alone as the attraction continued to provide horticultural inspiration and valuable access to green spaces throughout the pandemic. The world-recognised landscape attraction has featured in numerous films and television series since opening, including being profiled on the BBC’s Planet Earth II documentary series with Sir David Attenborough where it was described as “perhaps the most spectacular example of city greening.”
Alongside lead designers Grant Associates, the British design team for Bay South comprised of 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). Founded in 1997, Grant Associates celebrates 25 years of delivering environmentally-focused landscape projects internationally this year.
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About Grant Associates
Grant Associates is a pioneering international landscape architecture practice. Our work reconnects people with nature in insightful, delightful and distinctive ways whilst addressing the global challenges of urbanisation, the climate crisis and biodiversity extinction.
Our design process is underpinned by a knowledge of human behaviour, nature and ecological science combined with innovative design technology. We bring original thinking, creative collaboration and are exploring what regenerative design and the circular economy means to landscape architecture.
Our varied portfolio includes ambitious large-scale, landmark projects through to small, local ventures.