Speech by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister For National Development, at the Launch of the Gardens by the Bay International Design Competition

20 Jan 2006
20 January 2006
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning.
I am glad to be here with you to launch the Gardens by the Bay international design competition. This event marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Singapore, as it brings us closer to our vision of transforming Singapore into a distinctive, global City.
The Garden City
Our Garden City has come a long way. Its roots go back to 1963, when Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister, launched the first Tree Planting Day. Since then, we have been unstinting in our efforts in greening Singapore. The beautiful, lush landscapes that surround us today are the fruits of the enduring commitment by the Government and our people.
Minister Mentor knew well the premium that greenery can bring to the development of Singapore. Today, after arriving at Changi Airport, foreign visitors are immediately greeted by the meticulously manicured greenery on their way to the city. Instinctively, they sense effective organisation, careful planning and a commitment to the total infrastructure. The greenery also creates a pleasing and quality environment for our people to live, work and play in.
A recent Newsweek article described how our Garden City status contributed to America's Lucasfilm Animation?s decision to open its first foreign studio in Singapore. ""Thanks in part to an item entirely off the spreadsheet -- trees"", as Newsweek put it. Christian Kubsch, GM of the Singapore studio said in the article, ""You can hike above the tropical rain forest in the morning, kayak in the warm ocean waters at lunch and walk through the botanical gardens at midnight without having to be afraid you will get mugged"".
Advancing The Garden City
Despite our efforts so far, we must continue to tend and cultivate our status as a premier garden city. The Singapore Botanic Gardens, for example, is undergoing developmental works to enhance its standing as a renowned botanical institution. Come March, when works at SBG?s Tanglin Core are completed, we will have a new herbarium, library, public reference centre, laboratories, and improved amenities for the visitors. At the same time, plans are being laid to develop and expand SBG?s Bukit Timah Core.
We have also rolled out other bold and exciting plans, which will weave our parks, gardens and nature reserves into a seamless green landscape matrix, extend greenery skywards, and enhance greenery along our streets. The result will be a verdant tropical garden setting within which our urban infrastructure is nested. I quote from the same Newsweek article: ""Singapore is setting the pace. Its 10-year plan is to link scores of green patches in a contiguous ribbon of parks, gardens and landscaped paths that would allow joggers and bikers to traverse the city-state. The scheme calls for the creation of an additional 1,000 hectares of parkland by 2015 and even a modification to Singapore's ""Garden City"" moniker. The new one is, ""a City within a Garden.""
Our Garden City, while lush and luxuriant, is primarily green. We intend to add more colour and vibrancy through flowers and coloured foliage en masse. The waterfront gardens at the Marina Bay will take the lead in this metamorphosis, and bring forth the qualities that will make us truly a ""City in a Garden"".
Marina Bay and ""Gardens by the Bay""
The Marina Bay development will be the centrepiece of Singapore as a vibrant global city. We have an opportunity to establish our unique positioning by developing a distinctive collection of ""Gardens by the Bay"" -- right in the heart of the new downtown.
The Gardens by the Bay development will consist of a green necklace of 3 inter-connected gardens around the Bay. Each garden will have its own unique character:
  • The Garden at Marina South, adjacent to the Integrated Resort, is envisaged to showcase tropical blooms and foliage colour at their best. At its heart would be a Conservatory that features flowering plants from cooler climates. It could also include an outdoor concert and events arena, and a showground that will be home to the Singapore Garden Festival.
  • The Garden at Marina East could comprise water-theme gardens and be part of a staging area for water-sports in the Bay.
  • Last but not least, the Garden at Marina Centre is envisaged to be a linear garden linking the cultural core at the Esplanade Theatres to Kallang Basin. It could also offer possibilities for beachfront recreation.
    These Gardens will complement and complete the developments around the Marina Bay. They will loop round the Bay, interweaving a spectacle of tropical floral colours with urban developments. Coupled with exciting new attractions and amenities around the Bay, they will offer an entirely new quality experience for Singaporeans and visitors.
    International Design Competition ? An Invitation
    Singapore?s location just over one degree north of the Equator imbues it with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. At the crossroads of East and West, it is a rich blend of many cultures and an international centre of commerce. These geographical, ecological, historical and cultural ingredients, located within a developed infrastructure, offer unparalleled possibilities for a new horticultural icon at the Gardens by the Bay.
    This is why we are seeking planners, architects and landscape architects to join us in this endeavour by taking part in an international competition for the design of the Gardens. The competition will be in two stages. The first stage, which will commence with this launch, will seek ideas for the Master Plan. A second stage will then follow, which will seek designs of specific features identified in the Master Plan.
    To landscape planners and architects all over the world, I want to invite you to give expression to your creativity and imagination, and participate in the realisation of one of the most distinctive gardens in the tropical belt. Let us work together to develop the Gardens by the Bay and make it among the most exciting gardens of the world, thus bringing a new burst of colour to Singapore and enriching the lives of visitors and residents alike.
    Thank You.
Last updated on 19 November 2014

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