Waterfalls, jungle-like structures and century old trees isn’t something you usually hear of in a major city like Singapore. The Gardens By The Bay showed off an amazing array of colorful flowers, waterfalls and even some traditional masks from my home Papua New Guinea! If you are touring Singapore, I would highly recommend you visit the beautiful Gardens by the Bay. Our exploration in the human built garden enclosure was filled with “wow”, “amazing” and “beautiful” remarks, however appearances were not the only part that I found interesting. In particular, the sustainable practices that were implemented into this ecosystem was impressive. Water irrigation systems and energy saving practices were just two of the many practices I encountered on my tour.
Sustainability has been an interest of mine since the day I started watching Nat Geo so I am writing with a passion to someday implement sustainable practices in my home country Papua New Guinea.
The Gardens By The Bay design came from an international master plan design competition in 2006 which resulted in more than 70 entries from over 24 countries. One winner was announced and the gardens officially commenced building in 2007 and was opened in 2012.
The gardens have a wide variety of specialty areas however my group and I visited the Cloud Forest, Supertree Grove Lightshow and Flower Dome. All had one word in common, SUSTAINABILITY.
We waited outside the automatic doors to the Cloud Forest first and with every opening, a delightful gust of cool wind from the temperature regulated room would make us even eager to get out of the 30 degree heat. Upon entry there is a 35m waterfall that many of the tourist take their first photos at. The waterfall plays the most important role in the sustainable use of energy and irrigation to various plant life in the 0.8 hectare dome. The water is collected from rainwater rundown off the roof which is then directly stored for irrigating the plants inside the dome. Additionally, to reduce the energy in the cooling process, the air inside the dome is dehumidified by liquid desiccant which comes from burning plant matter. The ability to intertwine nature to create a very educational tourist attraction is very important as it can be enjoyed by all demographics.
Educational activities and shows were available inside the mountain. I witnesses many tourist sit patiently and watch the program about the future of our planet, let us just say it was scary yet sad to see where this world is heading to. Interactive advertising with a small landscape replica of the gardens and projectors were a great way of educating all ages about how the garden operates to be sustainable and eco-friendly.
The experiences in the Cloud Forest truly reflects the direction Singapore is heading towards. Their efforts to create sustainable infrastructure is important to their Smart City goals. We all know about the chewing gum laws and tidy streets but most recently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the $1.5 billion ‘smart’ and ‘sustainable’ practices which aims to result in “zero waste” culture with a flourishing green economy by 2030.
After my experiences in the Garden’s By The Bay I can truly appreciate the efforts Singapore is making to reduce negative environmental impacts. The ability to advertise to various demographics in a way that is interactive and enjoyable is something I found important for such a global city.
Photography: Tiana Reimann Photography