Home to over 5.5 million, Singapore had no choice but to adopt high-density development because of its tight land constraints.
“We take steps to ensure our self-sufficiency,” says Yvonne Soh, general manager of the Singapore Green Buildings Council. “In Singapore, we have a lot of initiatives to promote sustainability.”
As Singapore expands, a novel approach preserves green space. New developments must include plant life, in the form of green roofs, cascading vertical gardens, and verdant walls mandatory since 2008. This has resulted in urban planners literally weaving nature throughout the entire city – visible from across the landscape. Innovative design has created the illusion of space using “green” and “blue” elements. This includes the creation of one of the largest freshwater city reservoirs in the world.
Much of that vision to keep Singapore both sustainable and livable stems from Cheong Koon Hean, the first woman to lead Singapore’s urban development agency (UDA). With a rising population and finite freshwater resources, some positive action was needed fast, so ministers set up a national water agency, PUB, which became the sole body responsible for the collection, production, distribution, and reclamation of water in the city.
The Gardens: look east for Eden, Singapore Style
“Many studies show that hospital beds with a window onto greenery result in their patients recovering faster. Schools have better attendance and companies have better staff retention, if they have vegetation close at hand.”
Visitors to Singapore are often surprised by how green the island is considering how large a population it crams onto its small landmass. According to the latest Siemens’ Green City Index for Asia, Singapore is the best-performing city in the region when measured against a range of sustainability criteria.
Singapore stands as a model of sustainability and water management in the region and beyond and is the Eden garden city of the future.