The Gardens by the Bay project - comprising three themed gardens at Marina South, Marina East and Marina Centre - is expected to draw 2.7 million visitors a year and contribute around $1 billion of tourism receipts over 10 years.
But the 101 hectare project will not come cheap. The first phase - the 54-ha Gardens at Marina South, slated for completion by end-2010 - will cost $900 million. Development of the 32-ha Marina East and 15-ha Marina Centre gardens will take place later.
Highlighting the intangible value of the gardens, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said that their worth cannot be measured in dollars and cents alone.
‘Gardens by the Bay will be a national garden set in the heart of Singapore on prime waterfront land,’ he said in his speech at the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday morning. ‘Gardens by the Bay will offer a compelling leisure experience for Singaporeans and visitors alike. It will add value to the surrounding real estate.’
According to Mr Mah, the Gardens will boost Singapore’s international standing and differentiate it from other emerging cities.
Gardens at Marina South will boast two cool conservatories - a 1.4 ha ‘cool dry’ conservatory and a 0.9 ha ‘cool moist’ one - that will exhibit flowers and plants from the Tropical Montane and Mediterranean environments.
The National Parks Board (NParks) is looking into sustainable energy and water technology for the gardens. A commissioned study showed that cooling technology can cut energy consumption for each conservatory to less than that of a comparable commercial building in Singapore of similar size.
NParks adviser and project director for Gardens by the Bay, Tan Wee Kiat, said: ‘Singapore is a garden city of perpetual summer. We are bringing spring into the picture. On top of that, the challenge to our staff is to use as many species of plants that are seldom seen in our other parks. Not only that, we want to use them in very creative ways.‘
Visitors can also look forward to horticultural show gardens, ‘edu-tainment’ gardens, a flower market, a space for events and SuperTrees.
SuperTrees are steel structures 25 to 50 metres high that will act as vertical gardens. They will feature tropical flowering climbers, epiphytes and ferns, as well as a canopy to provide shade. At night, the canopies will feature lighting and projected media.
‘The most exciting part is this is the most precious part of modern Singapore,’ said Dr Tan. ‘If you’re very pragmatic, that is sold to the highest bidder. Yet this piece of territory belongs to everybody in Singapore.’
Source : Business Times - 10 Nov 2007