Find out how Gustafson Porter’s Bay East park project at Gardens by the Bay aims to set new standards for public green spaces in Singapore. Olha Romaniuk writes.
With the vision of rebranding Singapore from a ‘Garden City’ to a ‘City in a Garden’, Gardens by the Bay is one of the most high-profile and extensive projects that exemplifies the city’s bay front transformation with its three sprawling waterfront gardens – Bay South, completed in 2012, and Bay Central and Bay East, currently on their way to completion. For the 33-hectare Bay East, the project’s main master planning and landscape architectural firm, Gustafson Porter, highlights the symbiotic relationship of Singapore with water, providing landscaped access to the waterfront, creating opportunities for water recreation and emphasising the city’s important proximity to the waterways that surround it.
Positioning Bay East park as part of a larger vision for a ‘Smart City’ is at the forefront of Gustafson Porter’s mission, highlighting key opportunities for future development, environmental conservation and social well-being that the park will bring to the public. Through strategies implemented in Bay East, the firm aims to set new standards for public green spaces and make Bay East an active component of Singapore’s infrastructure rather than just another green space in the city. According to Gustafson Porter, “We have sought to address not only the environmental concerns within our site but to work collaboratively with government agencies to understand how Bay East Garden can enhance the future development in the Marina Bay area.”
As part of the long-term reclamation scheme in Singapore, Bay East sits on land reclaimed from the sea and has been positioned to attract investment in the development of the surrounding areas with strategies that connect the park to the city. Along with a planned new bridge and new extensions of the public transit network that will make Bay East easily accessible to the public, the design of the park also takes into consideration strategic flood prevention and water control procedures, as well as water quality issues, to create a green space fitting of its context.
Integrating multiple programs, including water sports facilities, a visitor centre, dining venues and spaces for outdoor entertainment, Gustafson Porter’s goal is to remain mindful of the larger environmental needs for the park during the design and execution stages. “We believe that form should be driven by a well-researched understanding of environmental conditions,” explains the team at Gustafson Porter, “We work with patterns of sunlight and shade, dominant direction of breezes, natural drainage channels, and the diversity of seasons to deliver design that is sustainable, comfortable, and technically intelligent.”
Among Gustafson Porter’s solutions for a park design that is shaped by its surroundings is an introduction of Aquatic Gardens that offer reed bed water filtration systems and an incorporation of five water inlets orientated along a dominant direction of breezes to channel water into Bay East. Major attractions are clustered in five “leaves” along the water inlets, with leave-shaped landforms folding over and enveloping the building structures to provide insulation for better environmental performance and to allow rainwater infiltration as part of the Sustainable Urban Drainage initiative.
While Bay East park is not open just yet, the team at Gustafson Porter is optimistic that the new green space will encourage visitors to interact with and learn about nature around them. According to the firm, “The tropical garden setting is particular to Singapore but the themes are universal. We have explored the relationship between the plant world and the physical world. The human body and how we feel in our environment, what we eat, drink and engage with are celebrated in the individual garden ‘leaves’. Food grown in the gardens can be consumed in the restaurants. Educational displays will offer food for thought and teach children about the natural world. Adults and children of all ages will find something new to discover each time they visit the Garden. It is our hope that they will enjoy the gardens of Bay East and return again and again.”