Horticulture has never been this cool. Gardens by the Bay, a sprawling series of indoor and outdoor waterfront gardens in downtown Singapore, opens this month in the heart of the city's business district. The 250-acre project is part of a not-so-simple plan, says Gardens COO Kenneth Er, "to reinvent Singapore as a city in a garden." We take a sneak peek at futuristic features.
1. Clean Water
A lake surrounds the indoor gardens—which span the length of four football fields—serving as a natural filtration system: Water runoff is cleansed by aquatic plants before being discharged into the adjacent marina reservoir. The treated water is then recycled into the irrigation system to supply the rest of the gardens.
Standing 150 feet high, these "supertrees" are meant to mimic those found in Singapore's rain forests. In reality, they're concrete cores and steel trunks covered with a "living skin" of exotic plants. The trees double as exhaust receptacles for the conservatories, and their canopies are topped with solar cells that provide the power to keep them lit at night.
3. Cooled Conservatories
Ceilings use spectrally selective glass that keeps solar heat out while maximizing light availability for plants. The structures' floors contain a series of chilled water pipes to ensure that areas tourists visit are cooled and that warm air will rise and vent.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.