The Supertrees of Singapore

18 September 2013

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They look like a set from a forthcoming science fiction movie but these supertrees in Singapore are very much of this world.  A collection of eighteen of these trees, varying in size from 80 to 160 feet (25 and 50 meters), creates an amazing backdrop for Singapore's central business district.  What is more, they actually mimic real trees.

Eleven of these immense structures are fitted with solar panels.  The sunlight caught by these energies is converted in to energy which helps to run this thriving business center.  They are part of an area known as Gardens by the Bay.  Yet it will be many years before the energy they create recoup their initial cost.  The entire garden, despite its energy-efficient and green credentials, not to mention its increasing reputation as a conservation area for rare plants, cost three quarters of a million US dollars to build.

Yet despite the immense cost of the project, it is still easy to simply be awestruck by the sheer size, amazing design and other-worldly beauty of these supertrees of Singapore.  For a country which has the biggest per person carbon footprint per person in the Asia Pacific area, it is hoped that the trees will come to symbolise the importance of recreating nature’s natural balance and that they will raise awareness of the environment.  Singapore aims to cut its carbon emissions by at least 10% by the year 2020.

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In order to compete with the surrounding skyscrapers, including the Marina Bay Sands Hotel which we have previously featured on Kuriositas, the trees had to be tall.  Otherwise they would have simply shrunk in to insignificance besides the towering building all around.  This certainly creates a sense of balance in the Bay area but if visitors wish to lose their own they can take a stroll along the 128 meter skyway which connects two of the trees.

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The Supertrees are made of four parts.  First there is the reinforced concrete core, the trunk, the photovoltaic panels which produce energy (which light the trees at night) and finally the canopy.  Between the trees, enclaves of rare and exotic plants, including orchids, vines and ferns are propagated and protected.

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Many say that the trees are at their most spectacular and beautiful in the early evening.

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The supertrees also collect rainwater which is used in the irrigation of their accompanying vegetation and supply the grove’s waterfalls in a manner which mimics the way in which trees absorb rainwater.  What is more, they also help to clean and cool the air around the grove.  They also act as air venting ducts for the conservatories.

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These conservatories take the shape of two huge domes, each the size of four football fields.  The names give a vague suggestion to what exactly they house – there is the Cloud Dome and the Flower Dome.  A glimpse inside shows just why Singaporeans envisage their Bay area becoming a major eco-tourism destination.

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Take a look inside them and the jaw invariably meets the floor.

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Each supertree has its own unique character.  A huge variety flowers and ferns are encouraged to grow across their steel structure and help to give the trees a more organic look.  Only time will tell if Singapore truly becomes the ‘city in a garden’ that its government desires.  Despite the overall cost of the project they do seem to have got off to a very good start.

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