Singapore shows how cities and green can go together
When I was a local politician in Amsterdam, we often discussed the possibilities to make the dense city greener. It turned out that this was easier said than done. That is why the green city of Singapore made a great impression on me. Of course, it is hard to compare the modern city of Singapore with, for example, the historical city of Amsterdam. Nevertheless, let Singapore’s green infrastructure be an inspiration to other cities.
The Asian City Green Index ranked Singapore first, leaving cities as Hong Kong and Tokyo behind. The people who are familiar with Singapore know that this is hardly a surprise. Since 1968, just after its independence, Singapore has been pushing to integrate urban development with the environment. The policymakers often refer to the city as the garden city. The cherry on the pie is the impressive project Gardens by the Bay, which will open in the end of June. But the parks were not the features of the city that made the most impression on me, it was the fact that there was much space reserved on the streets and buildings that inspired me the most. More often than not bridges and walkways are covered with flowers. And all the streets are flanked by trees, so that you sometimes have the feeling that you are walking in a tunnel of green.
The element that I want to emphasize are the green buildings. In many cities all over the world tall buildings are being built, so why not make it green? When looking up from Singapore’s streets at the skyscrapers, one immediately notices the trees and plants on the rooftops and balconies. It is an easy gain, since there is hardly any special construction needed. But it is possible push it further.
At least 1.500 square metres of this unique skyscraper are dedicated to green spaces. What is the most impressive about this building are the curtains of greenery.
Two years from now the innovative Oasia Downtown will be opened (see picture on the right and below). With multiple sky gardens and vertical green the ratio of this building’s footprint to its vegetated surfaces is exceptionally high: 750%.
In the same year the construction of the 1.4 billion dollars 40 storey office building/car park will be finished (see picture on the left). An office and car park together in one building sounds like it could become an unappealing structure, but I’m looking forward to seeing this one.
Still in the developmental phase is the Scotts Tower. In this 31 story building gardens and green roofs will be established to create communal gardens high above the ground. But people don’t have to wait till those buildings are finished. Today there are many buildings that embrace the concept of vertical green. For example this building below: just a simple building I came across. The building itself could be an insult for the eyes, but it looks much better because of the green wall.
Or go to the famous shopping district and the rooftop of Orchard Central.
Not only on the outside of buildings, also on the inside, can green walls be admired.
Those are just a handful of example how cities can be greener. This has not only a positive effect on the environment, but it increases the livability and the beauty of the city. City planners and architects should all come to Singapore to be inspired by the endless possibilities to make cities greener. “No room” cannot be longer used as an excuse, since Singapore proves that even in densely populated areas lots of green can arise. When there is no space left on the ground, then go up.