Starting this weekend, Singapore will shine, thanks to a canopy of artificial trees that tower hundreds of feet above the hot and humid city.
The man-made mechanical forest, five years in the making, consists of 18 supertrees that act as vertical gardens, generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater. To generate electricity, 11 of the trees are fitted with solar photovoltaic systems that provide lighting and assist with water flow in the conservatories below. These trees serve several purposes: they act as a vertical tropical garden, as the engine room for the environmental systems of the conservatory, and as rainwater receptacles. They will also be lit up at night, and some will connect by walkways to provide an aerial view of the garden.
The Supertrees, which vary in height between 80 and 160 feet, are made of four parts: reinforcement concrete core, trunk, planting panels of the living skin, and canopy. Just like non-mechanized forests, the large canopies operate as temperature moderators, absorbing and dispersing heat, as well as providing shelter to visitors walking below. This suite of technologies can help to achieve at least 30% savings in energy consumption, compared to conventional methods of cooling, according to the project’s website. Special sky bridges connect a few of the trees, for those brave enough to walk above Earth at the height of the top of skyscrapers.
The colossal solar-powered supertrees are found in the Bay South garden, which officially opens to the public on June 29. The 250-acre landscaping project is part of an initiative from Singapore’s National Parks Board called Gardens by the Bay. The idea is to create a sustainable garden in the city, generating a better environment for humans with a creative fusion of technology and nature.
The artificial trees are just a tiny part of a larger botanical oasis with lakes and plants, where concerts and events can be held. Surrounding these cultural green spaces in the rest of the 103-acre Bay South park are sprawling areas complete with lakes and bridges.