First announced by the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally in 2005 Gardens by the Bay is an urban garden space build on reclaimed land as an iconic garden to define the city of Singapore.
An international competition was held for the design of the gardens in 2006 which saw more than 70 entries by 170 firms from 24 countries. The winner was 2 British firms, Grant Associates and Dominic White who split the development of Bay South and Bay East Gardens.
The park pulls in over 8 million tourists a year, people flock to the 2 glass domes which are greenhouse conservatories built to showcase the best of tropical horticulture. The flatter, larger dome is called the flower dome. It replicates a mild, dry climate and is filled with mediterranean and semi-arid tropical plants. These would be plants from South America, South Africa and parts of Australia.
The taller dome is called the Cloud Forest which replicates a cool moist tropical mountain climate between 3300 ft to 9800 ft or 1000 to 3000 meters. These regions are found in Southeast Asia, Middle and South America.
A massive garden spire is the center of attention in this dome that has a waterfall that cascades 115 ft or 35 meters to the bottom. Spiral ramps allow one to enjoy the gardens from the top to the bottom with cool fresh air.
Different levels within cloud forest have different themes, numerous different plants can be found throughout such as ferns, peacock ferns, bromeliads and orchids. There are over 220,000 plants within the conservatories.
The conservatories have an entrance fee but if you’re looking for something free you can check out the grounds around the conservatories.
Outside the Domes are elaborate tree structures called Supertrees in the Supertree Grove.
These tree like structures range from 82 ft to 160 ft or 25 meters to 50 meters in height. The Supertrees are covered with over 162,000 plants from 200 different species. Above the supertrees are catwalk walkways that provide a view like no other. The tallest Supertree in the Gardens by the Bay is over 16 stories tall. During nighttime light shows can be viewed right on the trees that are cued to music. The Supertrees serve as air intake and exhaust systems as well 11 of the 18 Supertrees are embedded with photovoltaic cells that harvest solar power.
It cost over 1 billion dollars to build the gardens and takes a whopping 58 million dollars a year to maintain them, 28 million of that is for both conservatories. While this does seem like a lot visitor numbers have been skyrocketing since the gardens have opened with a current attendance around 8 million people annually. The current tourist price to enter the conservatories is $28 which would more than double the running costs even if only ½ the tourists when into the conservatories. Cities around the world are now looking to build something similar in their cities hoping to have their “money gardens” as it has been dubbed.
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