Man-Made Beauties: Supertrees

Man-Made Beauties: Supertrees

From Issue Sustainuary 2016: Planning For A Sustainable Future

Singaporean Super Trees can be imposing figures, growing up to fifty meters tall. The trees, lined with photovoltaic solar panels, ferns and orchids, were constructed in an effort to clean the air in downtown Singapore. They were built as part of the “Gardens by the Bay” project, which is an 250 acre artificial garden consisting of a thirty meter waterfall and over 130,000 different types of plants. The forest is located next to the Marina Reservoir in Singapore and is all part of a project to transform Singapore from an urban city into a “city in a garden.” The real star of the show, however, are the Super Trees. The man-made steel forest consists of eighteen giant trees. Serving multiple purposes, the trees are able to collect rainwater, generate solar electricity, and of course provide shading and heat dispersal. Beyond the sheer feat of engineering, they also act as a beautiful art installment. The lit branches reach into the night sky, illuminating Singapore’s skyline. The trees invite visitors to board a “skywalk,” a bridge connecting the trees, where visitors are able to admire up close the botanical installments which scale the “bark” of the tree.

The British Landscape Company Grant Associates won the competition to design the 250 acres of land, and chose to utilize about 130 of those acres to display the ethnic makeup of the country. This piece of the project, called the Heritage Garden, contains Indian and Chinese themed plants to learn about the links between them and the history of Singapore. The organizers of the “Gardens by the Bay” project hope that their garden will soon become a hub for ecotourism, showing sustainable practices from all around the world. Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of the Republic of Singapore, said the project would “showcase what we can do to bring the world of plants to all Singaporeans.”

Boasting a visitor count of beyond 5 million within the first year of being “planted,” the trees have been regarded as a successful endeavour in attracting ecotourists. The trees provide a botanical oasis from the urban jungle that is Singapore, and have been well received in the surrounding areas. Hopefully the success of this garden will lead to the creation of similar structures around the rest of the world and encourage the education of sustainability.