Speech by Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development, at the Official Opening of Tanglin Core, Singapore Botanic Gardens, and the Launch of the Gardens by the Bay Master Plan Exhibition 06 Sep 2006 Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, Good morning.It is always a pleasure to be here at the Gardens, amidst such convivial ambience.Official Opening of Tanglin Core A few minutes ago, I had the pleasure of opening the Botanic Gardens gates to symbolize the official opening of the redeveloped Tanglin Core of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.The Singapore Botanic Gardens has been an integral part of Singapore's heritage and development.It has contributed significantly to Singapore's transformation into a Garden City through its work in plant research, education and conservation.On a personal level, the Gardens holds many fond memories of our childhood years and those of our children.Today, the Gardens is a key green space in Singapore, offering a premier lush and tranquil recreational space for both residents and visitors.It receives about 3 million visits annually.This is a 45% increase in visitorship over the last decade.In order to cater to the increasing visitorship, NParks has been adding new attractions and upgrading the amenities within the Gardens.Some of the recent developments include the National Orchid Garden Cool House, Visitor Centre, Ginger Garden, Heliconia Walk, Evolution Garden, and the newly upgraded Symphony Stage. Each feature has been carefully planned and integrated into the overall living fabric of the Gardens.However, the Gardens is more than just a green space for recreation and leisure. Like other botanical gardens, its central mission is botanical research and the education of the public on the importance of plants to humanity.In this respect, the Gardens has attained international renown as a leading tropical botanic institution in its 147-year history.The redevelopment of Tanglin Core is a significant step to strengthen the Gardens' position as a key institution for botanical research and education.Tanglin Core presents new perspectives of how greenery contributes to quality of life. Here, visitors can enjoy attractions such as the carefully planted landscapes, the Public Reference Centre, and the laboratories.Tanglin Core represents the heart and soul of the Gardens.It is a repository of nature and knowledge, and a living laboratory and classroom.The Botany Centre will also serve as a hub for local horticulturists and professionals in the landscape industry to interact, share knowledge, and advance the science of botany and horticulture.It also has the potential to be developed into a leading research and resource centre for botanists around the world. Following the redevelopment of Tanglin Core, the emphasis in the coming years will be on the Bukit Timah Core, which will focus on botanical recreation and education. Visitors can look forward to the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, as well as other botanical features such as the Healing Garden, Terrace and Pergola Gardens.The opening of the Botanic Gardens MRT station at Bukit Timah Core in 2010 will enhance accessibility to the Gardens.We will continue to add new attractions and facilities to the Botanic Gardens, but we are not stopping here.We want to transform Singapore into a City in a Garden, where our homes are nestled in a distinctive living environment with lush greenery and beautiful tropical blooms. Gardens by the Bay Master Plan The Gardens by the Bay (GB) will bring to life this new phase of development.It will exemplify the ""Garden"" in our Garden City, by adding colour and vibrancy through flowers and coloured foliage. GB will showcase the best of tropical horticulture and floral displays.It will be a central park for all residents and visitors alike.In January this year, I launched the GB International Design Competition.The competition attracted attention worldwide, with over 70 entries submitted by 170 firms from 24 countries. Last month, 8 short-listed teams of international design firms presented their submissions to an 11-member international jury.The judges were impressed with how the designers pushed the envelope of design, while taking into account the climate, culture and context of Singapore.They strived to come up with something iconic and innovative, and at the same time ensuring that their designs would blend in well with the surrounding developments at Marina Bay.Winning Teams and Design Concepts After careful deliberation, the jury has picked 2 winning design teams - Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter.Both teams had very unique design concepts that encompassed aesthetic elements that were implementable and flexible. Grant Associates' strength showed in their design for the garden at Marina South, while Gustafson Porter excelled in their design for Marina East.The jury has therefore selected Grant as the winner in the masterplan design competition for the Marina South garden, and Gustafson as the winner for the garden at Marine East.The design by Grant Associates for Marina South seeks to produce a Garden in the Downtown that pulsates with colour and vibrancy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.It employs landscape, water features, and horticultural splendour to capture the essence and cosmopolitan character of Singapore.For Marina East, the design by Gustafson Porter plays with leaf forms to shape new spaces for enjoyment, and exploits the water frontage to create new angles for appreciating the scenery and sunset with the city skyline as a backdrop.I congratulate the 2 winning teams for their excellent efforts.We have also accepted the jury's recommendation not to award any winner for the masterplan for the third garden at Marina Centre at this point in time.This will give us greater flexibility to decide how to develop this last piece of the jigsaw puzzle after the other 2 gardens have taken shape. Public Exhibition While we have decided on the winning masterplans, I would like to emphasize that these are not the final blueprints. Masterplans are concepts, and more work is still needed and ideas welcomed. Both teams will continue to work with NParks to develop the details of the designs.The winning masterplans still have room for other ideas to be incorporated.This will ensure that we can have the best possible final design for the Gardens by the Bay.This is why I am happy to launch an exhibition of the winning masterplan concepts, which will serve as canvasses upon which more ideas could be generated.I invite the public to visit the exhibition, and give their feedback.The public can also visit the GB website to view the concepts and give their comments. These ideas and views will be taken into consideration as we proceed to the detailed design stage.Your participation will make the process more complete.And the final designs will create iconic gardens that will herald a new era in the future of garden and park development in Singapore. Conclusion In conclusion, let me reiterate that the Gardens by the Bay is a major commitment by the Government towards building a distinctive global garden city in this place we call home.The Gardens will be for all Singaporeans to own, to enjoy, and to share with our family and friends. In a National Day survey conducted by TODAY, the Gardens has been rated as the project Singaporeans are most excited about.I am sure that this will be the most awaited project by all Singaporeans.I am confident that together, we can create a collection of gardens in Marina Bay which all of us can truly be proud of.It gives me great pleasure to officially open Tanglin Core and to launch the Gardens by the Bay Master Plan Exhibition.Thank you.