Gardens by the Bay Conservatories

Gardens by the Bay, in Marina Bay, Singapore, is a key project in delivering the Singapore Government's vision of transforming Singapore into a 'City in a Garden'.  The 101 hectare park comprises three distinct waterfront gardens- Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central.  The Conservatories at the focus of this piece are at the center of the 54 hectare Bay South Garden.

This Cooled Conservatory Complex covers an area in excess of 20,000 sq m and are among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world.  They provide a spectacular, all-weather attraction and comprise a 1.28 hectare cool dry conservatory (the 'Flower Dome') and a 0.73 hectare cool moist conservatory (the 'Cloud Forest')  Each with its own distinct character explores the horticulture of those environments most likely to be affected by climate change.

The Flower Dome tells the story of plants and people in the Mediterranean climate zone, and how the plants cultivated in these regions will gradually become endangered as temperatures rise.  It has a planted footprint of more than 10,100 sq m and aims to bring alive the experience of seasonal change change for visitors more used to Singapore's eternally tropical climate and lush green vegetation.  The landform of the conservatories draws inspiration from Mediterranean landscapes and evokes the language of dry, sun-baked hillsides punctuated with rocky terraces and stoney outcrops.  At the center of this permanent display is the Flower Field– a vast carpet of flowers in bloom which will change seasonally.

The Cloud Forest highlights the relationship between plants and the planet, showing how the warming of the cool tropical cloud forests will threaten biodiversity.  With a smaller footprint but greater height than Flower Dome, it has at its heart a planted 'Mountain' from which a 35m high waterfall drops.  Visitors can experience the forest at different levels from a Cloud Walk, a Canopy Walk and the Forest Floor and Ravine Walks.  Within the mountain, a series of exhibition spaces describe the impact of incremental temperature change and the sustainable technologies employed across the gardens, while at its foot is the Ravine– a series of darkened secret gardens surrounded in mist.

Both conservatories have a dual system structure of gridshell and arches to permit as much light as possible through to the planted displays within.  The gridshell portion is very fragile and is designed to only support its own weight and the weight of the glass.  Wind loads are resisted by the arches that are set away from the surface of the envelope and arranged radially in line with the geometry of the gridshell.  The structural combination creates a distinctive, lightweight clear-span structure which is thought to be among the largest gridshells in the world.