Thursday Salute to Originals: Singapore’s Solar Powered “Trees”
While major metropolises around the globe have continuously given skyscrapers hierarchy over the urban landscape, Singapore has chosen to take a different spin on the traditional skyline.
“Blossoming” less than two weeks ago, the city’s latest architectural development introduces a canopy of artificial trees that tower over the tropical waterfront. The project was dedicated as a national landmark in an effort to earn Singapore the title as “botanical capital of the world,” while simultaneously creating a visual bridge between the contemporary architecture of the city center, and the lush greenery of the latest 250-acre landscaping project, Gardens by the Bay. Soaring 25 to 50 meters into the air, it’s hard to miss this spectacular installation!
Man cannot create nature, but the design team proved that man can certainly imitate it. The teams at Wilkinson Eyre Architects, Grant Associates Landscape Architecture, and Atelier 10 Structural Engineers collaborated throughout the various design phases to create a colossal forest that is not only symbolic of trees, but the future prosperity of Singapore. As the city begins to place a larger emphasis on “greening” the landscape, the supertrees will be used to educate the population about the importance of sustainable practices.
Each tree serves many purposes that extend far beyond visual aesthetics: generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater for irrigation systems. Because solar photovoltaic systems have been added to eleven of the eighteen trees, the upper canopies and ground-level botanical gardens can be illuminated without relying on Singapore’s electrical grid. These canopies, absorbing and dispersing heat, also operate as temperature moderators to improve the climate for visitors walking beneath the structure.
Weighing hundreds of tons apiece, the trunks of the supertrees support a suspended walkway seven stories in the air that offers panoramic views of the city and waterfront. From this height, visitors can gain a closer view of native tropical flowers, epiphytes, and ferns climbing the trunks of the trees, and a vast view of the gardens below. While local species clad the exterior of the trees, the interior cavities will function as a greenhouse, holding an anticipated 220,000 plant species from every continent!
Balancing the rapid city growth with environment responsibility, Singapore is certainly on it’s way to earning the title of “botanical capital of the world.” Cities around the globe can take inspiration from Singapore’s supertrees to impact their skyline in a sustainable manner that creates a relatable icon.