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- maggie rust, Art toronto coordinator & art blogger
Singapore, the land of luxury resorts and floating nightclubs, has been busy cultivating a massive, architectural garden of “flower domes,” “cloud forests,” and “supertrees” on 101 hectares of island waterfront. As the most recent aerial snapshots from Designboom reveal, the soaring steel flora is looking more and more robust, and the landscape is blossoming vector-for-vector into the likeness of its utopian digital rendering.
The “Gardens by the Bay” are an over $1-billion attempt to counter the elite exclusivity of Singapore’s newest architectural icon, the Moshe Safdie-designed Marina Bay Sands casino and hotel complex. “We are pulling our efforts together to realize the aspiration of delivering a garden that families, friends, and communities in Singapore can enjoy and cherish,” said National Parks Board advisor Dr. Kiat W. Tan, the mastermind behind the artificial utopia. While the infinity-pool-lined Marina Bay Sands resort slaps a US$75 levy fee on those privileged enough to pass through its doors, the “garden” is open to all, even locals with thinner wallets.
Yet, there is something perverse about seeing such exorbitant hallmarks of digital biomimicry spawning on a tropical island. As Tan stressed to Financial Times architecture writer Edwin Heathcote last fall, “these structures are about creating a ‘wow factor’. Education is good, but without entertainment, no one will pay attention.” If the objective of the project is pure spectacle, it looks like Tan and his team of gardeners have really hit the nail on the head.