Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay

Singapore

In 2006, WilkinsonEyre was part of a British-led team that won the design competition for one of the most ambitious cultural projects of recent years – the masterplan for Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The project, comprising three separate gardens covering a total of 101 hectares was central to the government’s visionary plan to transform the city-state into a City-in-a-Garden. WilkinsonEyre’s brief was to design an architectural icon, a horticultural attraction and a showcase for sustainable technology at the heart of the Gardens at Bay South.

Their response was the Cooled Conservatory Complex. The two main conservatory structures are among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world, covering an area in excess of 20,000m², and showcase the flora of those environments most likely to be affected by climate change: in the Flower Dome, the cool-dry Mediterranean zone; and in the Cloud Forest, the cool-wet tropical montane.

The challenge of creating these conservatory environments under glass was a fundamental driver of the design, which was brought about through a uniquely collaborative relationship between WilkinsonEyre and the other members of the multidisciplinary team: masterplanner Grant Associates, structural engineer, Atelier One and environmental specialists Atelier Ten. Each conservatory has a composite structure composed of a gridshell, which works in tandem with an external superstructure of radially arranged, arched steel ribs.

These were introduced primarily to address the lateral loads to the gridshell, although they also give the conservatories their distinctive organic identity. In a city state famous for its bold architecture, the cooled conservatories at Gardens by the Bay form a new landmark for Singapore and is already one of its largest visitor attractions. In 2012 the cooled conservatories were named World Building of the Year and in 2013 the project received the prestigious RIBA Lubetkin Prize.

'Here they have produced greenhouses covering two hectares that are carbon-positive. What's more they have pushed the boundaries not only environmentally but also structurally, giving the city a new and public landmark.' RIBA