Wrapping around Marina Bay, the cosmopolitan center of Singapore includes the convention center district and the downtown core facing the colossal Marina Bay Sands hotel. The staggering volume of old colonial architecture and sleek glass skyscrapers is balanced in perfect ying/yang by the new Gardens by the Bay. Unless you’ve visited recently, you’ve never seen anything like this park, with an unreal variety of event venues both indoors and out.
In the center of the 250-acre leafy landscape, the Supertree Grove is straight out of science fiction. The 12 towering steel trees range from 80-160 feet high with long mechanical branches covered with an exotic array of ferns, vines, orchids and bromeliads. In the center of the trees at the top, there are water containment and solar cells designed to make the park more self-sustaining. And there’s a walkway connecting the taller Supertrees for a vertiginous “walk in the park.”
At the top of the tallest tree, the IndoChine Restaurant offers incredible views of Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Straits filled with freighters waiting entry into the port. There’s a circular restaurant seating 100 with glass walls and a wraparound balcony rimming the tree. At the very top outdoors, a small bar is an amazing place to watch the nightly laser shows over Marina Bay.
The air quality in Singapore is excellent for a city this size, which is something Singaporeans are rightly proud of. Gardens by the Bay opened two years ago to maintain the ratio of green space to built environment, while educating locals and visitors about the city’s commitment to sustainability.
“We see ourselves as the New York Central Park of Singapore, or Hyde Park in London,” says Darren Oh, assistant director, business development. “We aim to share a story with Singaporeans and visitors about how the design of a building can harness as much energy as possible and consume as little as possible.”
Listening to Oh say that while sipping tea in what amounts to the world’s ultimate tree house is surreal. As time passes, the flora will completely cover the steel structures, which from afar, will look just like monster trees in the middle of a city.
Next to the Supertrees, The Meadow is Singapore’s largest park venue with capacity for 15,000 people. Next to that and Dragonfly Lake, named after the large metal dragonfly sculptures in the water, Silver Leaf is a more intimate outdoor venue for 1,500-pax receptions or 320 banquet style.
At the end of the park on the shores of Marina Bay, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are two enormous greenhouse structures like something out of Alien. The Cloud Forest features a series of walkways inside the glass structure winding around a mountain covered with exotic plants and flowers. The walkway bisects the mountain at numerous places where exhibits detail the earth’s fragile ecosystem. The mist inside from the 100-foot waterfall creates a high degree of humidity so it actually feels like you’re walking through a cloud, but the temperature is maintained well so it doesn’t feel sticky. After an hour inside, you leave the building with your skin feeling like you’ve spent a day in the spa.
Next door, the Flower Dome showcases flora from all of the world’s climate zones. In the center, the Jubilee Hall is one of the city’s most popular event spaces for gala dinners and corporate functions for up to 700 seated.