2011年12月22日 星期四

Garden state 新加坡的新地標

2011年12月23日 07:15 AM

Garden state

It may sound odd but since the 1960s Singapore has been slowly remaking itself as a garden city. Tiny, dense, hyper-urban and constantly clawing back land from the sea to accommodate its booming centre, the city-state has nevertheless seen green tentacles creeping into every corner, every central reservation, every sliver of leftover sidewalk. Plants here thrive in the year-round tropical climate and grow in the most obscure places. The effect is impressive: a skyscraper city framed by palms and blooming bougainvilleas.

But no matter how green the city is becoming, it has always been defined more by its architecture than its horticulture. Most recently, Marina Bay Sands, an unimaginably vast casino and hotel complex, has become the city’s de facto symbol. Desperate not to loose out to the urban hubs emerging in the Middle and Far East, Singapore set out to attract tourists by building the most expensive hotel the world has ever seen. At a cost of more than $5bn, it surpasses even the dripping gold of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

The hotel is built on reclaimed land, across the bay from the city’s Central Business District, and operated by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. At 57-storeys high and with 2,561 guest-rooms, the structure straddles the city like a colossus. Singaporeans are discouraged from visiting by a S$100 (£49) levy on entrance; tourists can enter for free. Despite this, the casino, along with another in nearby Sentosa, is set to surpass the whole of Vegas in revenue (though not Macao, which is in another league). Singapore – puritanical and strait-laced, with its abiding acceptance of law and order and its aversion to chewing gum – finds itself in an uncomfortable position: its most iconic building, the one which symbolises its skyline like no other, is its “IR”, or “Integrated Resort” (they can’t quite bear to call it a casino). And apart from its surfboard-shaped roof garden, it isn’t very green at all.

The city’s solution has been to counterbalance the casino by constructing a huge green Eden, the Gardens by the Bay project, which is due for completion next summer. Singapore’s answer to New York’s Central Park, the gardens comprise a green corona which will encircle the bay to create a ring of almost continuous green space at the centre of the expanded city, transplanting its heart from the crowded colonial centre with its familiar landmarks (Raffles, the old post office, now the Fullerton Hotel and the rest) to a new CBD. It has realised that towers, the ubiquitous signifier of commercial modernity, are not enough to make it distinctive, but this garden certainly is.

Stand on top of the Integrated Resort (the best thing about it – you can’t see it from its own roof), look down and what catches your eye is not the city’s dense matrix of towers but a pair of seductively curvaceous greenhouses and a forest of diaphanous steel mushrooms. To a northern European, there is something desperately counterintuitive about building a greenhouse in the tropics but here they’ve been employed to introduce non-native species in a theatrical burst of colour largely absent from the rainforest greens of local vegetation. The structures are stunning. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre, an international architecture firm based in London, they look much like the inheritors of that very British tradition of glass houses which led to Crystal Palace and Kew’s Palm House.

Vast roofs stretch into the distance with the lightness of a spider’s web. The larger, flatter greenhouse, the Flower Dome – open temporarily this weekend to host the World Orchid Festival – covers nearly 200,000 sq m, rises to 38m and creates an artificial world which resembles the 1960s sci-fi visions of lunar greenhouses. Its landscape embraces bulbous South American trees, huge succulents, African baobabs and vast fiery carpets of red and gold flowers. The other “biome” is taller, its structure like a wave of glass and contains a simulated mountain up which grows the greenery of a tropical forest. Its roof reaches 58m and it creates an extraordinary landmark, a crystal mountain in the city’s flat, watery centre.

Wilkinson Eyre has made a successful habit of creating elegantly, and seemingly effortlessly, engineered structures that quickly come to define new or revived city centres. The firm’s “Winking Eye Bridge” over the Tyne has become a symbol of Newcastle’s regeneration; the 100-storey International Finance Centre in Guangzhou is one of the slickest skyscrapers of recent years; and the cable car in London’s Docklands (currently under construction) looks set to redefine this disconnected, desolate flatland.

These greenhouses are the finest thing the firm has done. But they are not the only structures in the gardens. Equally prominent are the eccentric “Supertrees”. Designed by the gardens’ Bath-based landscape architects Grant Associates and London engineers Atelier One and Atelier Ten – in a curious echo of a colonial past this is a completely British project – the trees are a forest of steel armatures which rise between 25-50m, their structures composed of a complex, twiggy network of steel. They are designed to act as frames for climbing plants, creepers and “epiphytes” which clad the trees of the tropical rainforests.

The guiding spirit behind the gardens is Dr Kiat W Tan. “We need to grab people’s attention,” he tells me, “and these structures are about creating a ‘wow factor’. Education is good, but without entertainment no one will pay attention.”

Tan has high hopes for what the gardens might achieve. “They can teach civic manners – for example, how to use and inhabit public space. But they also create a sense of belonging. This is prime real estate in the Central Business District and yet people can feel they own a bit of it, and that this is their park. It counterbalances the casino, a paradise to its mammon with buildings that become condominiums for plants.”

The gardens represent a huge civic investment – S$1bn spent on the greening of prime land – but the city is clear that it creates value. Just like Central Park, the plots around the gardens will become highly desirable, massively raising their value in an already expensive location.

The project is not, of course, only for Singaporeans. The city is already a magnet for tourists: its location serves as a genuinely cosmopolitan metropolis at the heart of Asia, which makes it popular with Chinese and Indians, as well as with Westerners looking for that touch of Asian exoticism minus its chaotic flipside. The gardens, with their delicate ecosystem of burgeoning tropical growth and carefully controlled spread, have become the perfect metaphor for this meticulously and intelligently-planned city. And what a nice touch that even the plants have been given megastructures and skyscrapers to allow them to compete with the city on equal terms.

Edwin Heathcote is the FT’s architecture correspondent



Edwin Heathcote was a guest of Singapore Tourism Board (www.yoursingapore.com), Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) and Fullerton Hotels. Double rooms at Fullerton Bay (www.fullertonbay.com) start from £192 and at The Fullerton (www.fullertonhotel.com) from £114

2011年12月23日 07:15 AM
作者:英國《金融時報》 埃德溫•希思科特


但無論城市變得多麼“綠色”,它終歸是由建築物、而非園藝來定義的。最近,集賭場與酒店於一身的綜合建築體濱海灣金沙酒店(Marina Bay Sands)成為​​新加坡實際意義上的象徵。為了不遜色於中遠東地區興起的城市中心,新加坡通過建造世界上最華貴的酒店來吸引遊客。這座酒店造價逾50億美元,甚至超過了阿布扎比堆金砌玉的酋長宮殿酒店(Emirates Palace)。

這座酒店建在填海而成的土地上,與新加坡中心商業區隔海相望,由拉斯維加斯金沙集團(Las Vegas Sands Corporation)經營管理。這座57層的酒店擁有2561間客房,好似與城市跨海灣相望的一座巨像。 (外國)遊客可以免費進入賭場,而新加坡本國人則需交納100新元(約合49英鎊)的“門票”,政府希望以此勸阻國民前來賭博。儘管如此,這家賭場加上另外一家位於附近聖淘沙(Sentosa)的賭場,合計收入將超過整個拉斯維加斯(但澳門的賭場不算,因為那是另一個故事)。向來以其清教徒式的拘謹、恪守法律和規則以及反感口香糖而著稱的新加坡,發現自己的處境有些尷尬:它最具代表性的建築物,最顯眼的地標性建築,被稱為“IR”或曰“一體化度假村”(直接稱之為賭場,新加坡人有些難以承受)。而除了衝浪板形狀的屋頂花園之外,它還真算不上有多麼“綠色”。

在這方面,新加坡的對策是修建一個巨大的綠色伊甸園,即濱海灣花園(Gardens by the Bay)項目,以此對賭場加以“制衡”。該項目預計將於明年夏季完工。作為紐約中央公園的“新加坡版”,新公園被設計成一個環繞濱海灣的綠色花冠,涵蓋了擴張後的城區中心地帶幾乎沒有間隔的綠色空間,將新加坡的中心從老城區擁擠的殖民風格的建築群落區(包括老郵局所在地萊佛士(Raffles),現在是Fullerton酒店,以及周邊其他的建築)遷移至此。新加坡意識到,作為現代商業標誌物而無處不在的高層建築,並不足以使自身與眾不同,但這樣一個花園卻肯定可以。

站在這個“一體化度假村”的頂層(最有意思的是:你從屋頂看不到度假村本身)俯瞰,最吸引人眼球的不是城市密密麻麻的高層建築,而是兩座曲線優美的溫室以及林立著的鋼鐵構架透明蘑菇頂“森林”。從一個北歐人的角度來看,在熱帶雨林地帶建立溫室,真是對直覺的莫大挑戰。這些溫室實際上用於培育雨林中無法生長的外來植物,通過這些植物增加本地沒有的自然色調。這些建築令人震撼。它們是由倫敦Wilkinson Eyre設計的,看起來繼承了英國玻璃房的傳統,讓人想起英國的水晶宮(Crystal Palace)和皇家植物園(Kew's Palm House)。

巨大的屋頂一直延展到遠方,帶有一種蛛網一般的輕盈與靈動。那個規模更大、也更為平滑的溫室被稱之為“花穹”(Flower Dome),最近因承辦世界蘭花節而對公眾臨時開放。花穹佔地近20萬平米,高38米,修造出一個類似上世紀6​​0年代科幻版本的月球溫室環境。溫室中的景緻包括球根狀的南美樹木,巨大的多汁植物,非洲猴麵包樹,以及由鮮紅色和金色鮮花織成的巨大花毯。另外一個“生態穹頂”更高一些,結構就像是由玻璃組成的層層海浪,其中模擬了一座生長著綠色熱帶植物雨林的山脈。這間溫室高達58米,成為了一個非同尋常的地標——被城市相對平緩的輪廓線襯托出的水晶山。
Wilkinson Eyre養成了一種成功的習慣,即建造優雅、看似毫不費力的建築物,而這些建築物會迅速成為或者復活為城市中心的“名片”。該公司在泰恩河上修建的“眨眼橋”(Winking Eye Bridge),已經成為紐卡斯爾市復興的象徵;在廣州修建的高達100層的國際金融中心,是近年來最漂亮的摩天大樓;而倫敦城港區的纜車項目(目前在建)則將重新定義這一支離破碎、荒涼的平坦地帶。

這些溫室是這家設計公司最傑出的作品。但它們並非花園中唯一的建築物。同樣搶眼的還有那些古怪的“超級樹”(Supertrees)。它們的設計者是總部位於巴斯的景觀設計所Grant Associates和倫敦設計機構Atelier One and Atelier Ten。作為對以往殖民地年代的巧妙回應,這是一個徹頭徹尾的英式項目。 “超級樹”是一片25至50米高的鋼鐵支架叢林,由枝繁葉茂的繁複鋼鐵網絡構成。之所以設計“超級樹”,是為了給熱帶雨林裡的攀援植物、匍匐植物和附生植物提供生長空間。

這些花園背後的靈魂人物是Kiat W Tan博士。 “我們需要抓住人們的注意力,”他告訴我,“而這些建築正是為了讓人們發出驚訝聲。教育是不錯,但如果沒有娛樂因素,就抓不住人們的注意力。”

Tan對這個花園將實現的東西抱有很高的期望。 “它們可以起到教育民眾的作用——比如說,如何使用公共空間。它們同時還能夠產生一種歸屬感。雖然它是地處中央商務區的高檔地產項目,但人們還是能產生一點擁有感——這是他們的公園。”



埃德溫•希思科特(Edwin Heathcote)是英國《金融時報》建築業記者