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Year 2006

The two winning master plans for Gardens by the Bay Singapores project to build three landmark waterfront gardens has received a strong endorsement from public feedback after a three-week public exhibition of the winning designs conducted by the National Parks Board.

Some 10,000 people visited the exhibition of the two scale models from 6 to 24 September 2006, at the Botany Centre of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Over 700 people gave feedback (420 in face-to-face  interviews; 186 on feedback forms at the exhibition; 36 online and 61 in focus group sessions). The Gardens by the Bay website received over 266,000 hits during the 3-week exhibition, almost seven times more than the preceding month. An overwhelming majority (details below) of those surveyed said they would visit the Gardens based on the concepts.

Dr Kiat W. Tan, Director of Gardens by the Bay, said: NParks is pleased with the very positive response to the designs for the Gardens by the Bay by the two winning teams. The publics feedback supports the decision made by the international jury to award these two winning design teams. They will be appointed to help us create the best gardens possible.

The three Gardens located at Marina South (54 ha), Marina East (32 ha) and Marina Centre (15 ha) are scheduled to be opened in phases from 2010. The two winning master plans, awarded by an international jury after a nine-month process, were created by international design teams led by landscape architecture firms Grant Associates, based in Bath, England, and Gustafson Porter from London. The master plan competition drew 70 entries from 170 companies from 24 countries.

The findings from the feedback were as follows:

  • 420 visitors were interviewed based on a detailed questionnaire in a face-to-face survey at the exhibition. An overwhelming majority (at least 85%) liked the features in the master plans for both the Garden at Marina South and the Garden at Marina East. Of those surveyed, 99.3% and 97.6% (for Marina South and Marina East respectively) said they would visit the Gardens based on impressions gained from the master plan concepts. The favourite feature at each Garden was the cool moist conservatory at Marina South (which received 94.8% of the votes) and at Marina East, the water-themed edutainment feature (92.9%).
  • 186 viewers of the Botany Centre exhibition filled in a hardcopy questionnaire on what they liked about the designs and what else they would like to see.
  • Six focus group sessions were conducted with people from various life-stages (e.g. students, working adults, housewives, retirees), professional groups (e.g. architects, landscape designers, academics) and special interest groups (e.g. the disabled, members of the Nature Society, sports associations). These focus groups showed that the needs of people in different life-stages are quite distinct but the consensus is that the Garden at Marina South have features appealing to everyone as a destination attraction, while the Garden at Marina East are more for relaxation and enjoying refreshments with families and friends. In addition to the focus groups, a special viewing was held for a group of practitioners and interested citizens who had attended an industry brainstorming workshop organized earlier this year.

The topline-aggregated findings from all the feedback are as follows:

  • An overwhelming majority of all respondents were impressed with the designs. The public generally preferred Grants designs while some respondents liked Gustafson Porters concept just as much. For example, one comment was: The combination of a showy garden at Marina South (near the integrated resort) and a more close-to-nature garden at Marina East is excellent! I congratulate the judges for making such a wise and thoughtful decision.
  • Some general suggestions included having good public access to the Gardens with facilities like a people mover system; lots of shade, covered walkways and trees; spaces for children, the elderly and disabled; jogging, cycling and marathon tracks; retention of mature greenery at the sites and links between the three Gardens.
  • Other interesting suggestions included having a butterfly garden; a horticultural library for the young; an animal farm; showcase sculptures by international and local artists; a floral maze; a windmill; wind chimes; examples of Chinese, Japanese, European, Zen gardens, and so on.
  • The conservatories and the multi-purpose super trees were also well-received although a few commented that they hoped these would be energy-efficient and sustainable and the number of super trees reviewed. One comment was: "Super trees, cloud mountain and discovery conservatories... it's great to see parallel efforts to conserve nature in the push to create an ultra-modern infrastructure."
  • Some hoped for a measure of defined integration among the three designs eventually. But many were happy that different design teams would do Marina South and Marina East, and that Marina Centre might be developed later with participation from local tender.
  • A very few raised some concerns over some aspects of the designs and wished that Marina South did not become a theme park.

Although no master plan was awarded for Marina Centre, feedback was also sought on what the public hoped to see there. In the face-to-face survey, the top amenity asked for was cycling and jogging tracks (29.8%), and the most popular activity expected was outdoor music and buskers (25.2%).

Dr Tan added: We would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public who have taken time to share their ideas and suggestions which will serve as useful reference for the designers in addressing public expectations of the Gardens by the Bay and ensuring that specific features outlined in the master plans cater to the needs of the public. The designers will consider all suggestions and, where appropriate and possible, will try to incorporate them in the final designs.

Singapores Gardens by the Bay project which is set to build three major public gardens on the waterfront has named two design teams as joint winners of an international master plan competition. They are:

  • Grant Associates, a landscape architecture consultancy based in Bath, England, in collaboration with Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Atelier One, Atelier Ten, and Land Design Studios from the United Kingdom (UK); Meinhardt Infrastructure Pte Ltd, and Davis Langdon and Seah Singapore Pte Ltd from Singapore.
  • Gustafson Porter, an international landscape design practice based in London, in collaboration with Ove Arup (UK), and Davis Langdon and Seah Singapore Pte Ltd.

The competition, organised by Singapores National Parks Board and launched in January this year, drew over 70 entries submitted by 170 firms, of which 21 percent were from Singapore firms, from 24 countries.

Last month, eight short-listed teams of international design firms made presentations on their submissions and scale models of their designs to an 11-member international jury, chaired by Dr Kiat W. Tan, Adviser to the National Parks Board and Project Director of Gardens by the Bay. The teams had been selected based on criteria including track record, relevant experience, international award, design philosophy and approach. They included firms from the United States, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

On the overall standard of submissions, Dr Tan said: The eight designs were of very high quality and provided many creative and excellent design ideas for the Gardens. After careful deliberation and having given due consideration to the aesthetic appeal, implementability and flexibility of the designs, the Jury was unanimous in its decision that there were two designs that best met the Gardens vision and programmatic brief. It decided that the two teams be awarded as joint winners of this Competition.

Grant Associates recent projects include the New Islington Millennium Village in Manchester, a sustainable township near Granada in Spain and Chongqing Botanical Garden in China. They had also worked on several award-winning projects, such as the Earth Centre and the Yorkshire Artspace projects in the UK which had won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award.

Of the Grant Associates team, the judges said: The design concept for the Garden at Marina South captures the essence of a Garden in a downtown setting the experience of colour and vibrancy across 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, all year round. This was achieved by the strategic location of display gardens and activity spaces, with careful consideration given to day and night programming. The concept for the Conservatory was also attractive and technically implementable. The application of sustainable energy systems and the introduction of the Super Trees as iconic structures could give the Garden an extra wow factor.

Gustafson Porters recent projects include the Westergasfabriek Culture Park in Amsterdam, the Great Glasshouse at the National Botanical Garden of Wales and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, London.

Of the Gustafson Porter team, the judges said: The design concept for the Garden at Marina East positioned it as a key Garden, leveraging off the attractive views it offers of the city skyline, looking across the water. It sought to create an intimate relationship between the Gardens and the Bay, and provided spaces and display gardens to generate interest and vibrancy. The strength of the design was in the way it addressed the site conditions, thereby bringing forth the essence of Marina Bay in a subtle and elegant manner.

The Jury decided not to select a winning design for the Garden at Marina Centre. They felt that it should await further feedback from the public regarding what they wish for this strategic linear garden by the bay with a waterfront promenade stretching 2.8 km.

An exhibition of the winning designs and scale models is on at the Function Hall in the new Botany Centre (next to the Green Pavilion), Tanglin Core, Singapore Botanic Gardens from 6 to 24 Sept 2006 (7 am 8 pm daily). They can also be viewed on the Gardens by the Bay website at: These are master plans by the winning teams, and represent the conceptual stage and not the final designs. Ideas and views from the public will be considered and, where appropriate, will be used to flesh out and refine the final design. Gardens by the Bay is slated for opening in phases starting from 2010.

One of the members of the international jury, Prof Fumihiko Maki, Principal of Maki & Associates in Japan and winner of the 1993 Pritzker Architecture Prize, said: Because of their very strategic position in the centre of the city, these gardens, when fully realised, will bring tremendous change to the character of the downtown and surrounding areas. We are looking forward very much to the time when they will be completed.

Official Opening of Tanglin Core, Singapore Botanic Gardens

At the same ceremony, Minister Mah also officiated the opening of Tanglin Core including the Botany Centre at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The Botany Centre houses the heart and soul of the Botanic Gardens - its research and educational facilities. These enhanced facilities, which include the herbarium, laboratories and library, will play an important role in furthering the Gardens' position as a leading tropical botanic garden and institution for research and education. The Botany Centre was one of 17 developments which received the 2006 Green Mark Awards in April this year for its environmentally friendly design.

Taking centrestage at the Botany Centre is a green pavilion featuring Singapore's first pitched green roof. A celebration of Nature's resilience, the green roof showcases hardy plants like epiphytes, the Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) and the Tiger Orchid (Gramatophyllum speciosum). The green roof is a pilot project and forms part of NParks' efforts to leverage on new technology to promote skyrise greenery.

The facilities at the Botany Centre have also been carefully designed to further the Gardens' efforts to connect plants and people. For instance, the orchid breeding and micropropagation laboratory has been designed with viewing windows to provide an overview of the various stages in creating a new hybrid.

Visitors can also engage in research on plants, plant care, botany and horticulture at the Public Reference Centre. Featuring a leisure reading area with comfortable sofa seats, the Public Reference Centre will also offer a plant clinic and a self-help collection of herbarium specimens to allow students, nature lovers and budding gardeners to identify their own plants.

Commenting these latest developments, Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer, National Parks Board said: The development of Gardens by the Bay and redevelopment of Tanglin Core at Botanic Gardens are integral to our efforts to evolve Singapore into a City in a Garden that will provide the best home for our people and advance Singapores competitive edge as a global city of distinction. While the Botanic Gardens will continue to focus on its roles in botanical collections, research and education, Gardens by the Bay will become an iconic showcase of horticultural excellence focusing on mass floral displays and creative plant-based edutainment.

Ten teams of landscape architectural and architectural firms have been short-listed for the master plan stage of the international design competition for the Gardens by the Bay (GB), Singapores three new gardens to be built on the waterfront.

The competition, organised by the National Parks Board (NParks), drew more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries worldwide.

The 10 teams of short-listed firms, including Singapore-based and overseas companies, are:

  • Ah’bé Landscape Architects (USA) 
    in collaboration with George Yu Architects (USA)
  • Alsop Design Ltd (UK)
    in collaboration with Alsop Design (S) Pte Ltd (Singapore), and Martha Schwartz Inc (UK)
  • EDAW Australia Pty Ltd (Australia)
    in collaboration with EDAW Singapore Pte Ltd (Singapore), EDAW Inc. (USA), ARUP Singapore Pte Ltd (Singapore), Cicada Pte Ltd (Singapore), and WOHA Architects Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • Field Operations (USA)
    in collaboration with Foster & Partners (UK)
  • Grant Associates (UK)
    in collaboration with Atelier One (UK), Land Design Studios (UK), and Wilkinson Eyre Architects (UK)
  • Gustafson Porter Ltd (UK)
    in collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners (UK)
  • Office For Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) (The Netherlands)
    in collaboration with Inside Outside (The Netherlands)
  • Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop (Japan)
    in collaboration with GA Yamazaki (Japan), Leading Edge Design Corp. (Japan), Lighting Planners Associates Inc (Japan), Sowa Civil Engineering Ltd (Japan), and The Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Gardens (Japan)
  • Sasaki Associates, Inc. (USA)
    in collaboration with ARUP (USA), MVRDV (The Netherlands), and Sitetectonix Pte Ltd (Singapore)
  • WIN Landscape Planning & Design Pte Ltd (Japan)
    in collaboration with Keikan Sekkei Tokyo Co. Ltd (Japan), Mace Studio (Singapore), Miyake Masaki Associates (Japan), SAA Architects Pte Ltd (Singapore), Washio Associates Ltd (Japan), Water's Edge Pte Ltd (Singapore), and Dr Shawn Lum (Singapore)

The teams include a total of 38 firms, of which nine are Singapore-registered firms. The overseas short-listed firms include 10 firms from Japan, nine from the United Kingdom (UK), six from the United States (USA), three from The Netherlands and one firm from Australia.

Dr. Kiat W. Tan, Advisor to NParks and Project Director for the Gardens by the Bay, said, The international competition for master-planning the series of three Gardens by the Bay attracted much attention around the globe. Some of the best and brightest minds in landscape design and urban planning came together to express interest in shaping the design of Singapores iconic Gardens by the Bay. We are extremely pleased with the excellent quality and caliber of the short-listed teams. They represent some of the worlds finest talents engaged in their profession today. He added, Narrowing the field was extremely difficult, as we had to achieve a fine balance of established credential with fresh new talent. We are convinced, however, that the range, depth and creative potential of the short-listed teams will ensure the excellence of the Master Plan for Singapores Gardens by the Bay.

The 10 teams of firms were selected based on criteria such as track record; relevant experience; international awards and competitions won; and design philosophy and approach for the Gardens by the Bay (GB) Master Plan.

The short-listed entrants will be visiting Singapore soon to view the Gardens by the Bay (GB) sites, and will receive a design brief for the Gardens Master Plan.

Dr Tan said, The Master Plan brief takes into account NParks City in a Garden vision for Singapore, and experience in developing and managing parks and green spaces that are sensitive to the surroundings and responsive to the recreational needs of Singaporeans. We have also carefully reviewed feedback on the Gardens received from the public and our key stakeholders, and have incorporated their ideas and insights into the Master Plan brief.

The Expression of Interest (EOI) phase of the Gardens by the Bay (GB) International Design Competition has attracted more than 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries worldwide. Among them are 35 Singaporean firms, which make up 21 % of the participating companies.

Dr. Kiat W. Tan, Advisor to NParks and Project Director of the Gardens by the Bay, said, NParks is gratified by the tremendous interest worldwide generated by the GB Project. Reputable firms have submitted bids from cities as far-flung as Dubai, Paris, Madrid, Munich, New York, San Francisco, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney. I am particularly pleased with the strong showing of Singapore firms. All in all, the number and quality of submissions have exceeded our expectations, bringing together some of the best talents from the East and the West to help plan and shape Singapores waterfront gardens. Singaporeans can expect a high quality project.

Dr. Tan added that the excellent entries would set the benchmark for the quality of talent and expertise in the fields of urban planning, landscape architecture and architecture in the effort to propel Singapore to the forefront among global cities.

The Competition was launched by NParks in January 2006 to invite top local and international landscape architects and planners to conceptualise and create Singapores three iconic Gardens on 94 ha of prime land by the waterfront, the first of its kind in the tropics.

The EOI phase calls for submissions to provide design philosophy and approach for the three Gardens. NParks expects to short-list 6-8 entries in this phase. The evaluation of entries is based upon track record of the participants as well as their design philosophy and approach for the GB masterplan.

Details of the shortlisted firms will be announced in April 2006. These firms will be required to submit detailed masterplan designs. The masterplans will be judged by a high-profile jury comprising distinguished international and local experts in August 2006.