Above and beyond

Monday 04 Nov 2013

Grant Associates wins inaugural WAN Landscape Award with Bay South at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

World Architecture News is delighted to announce that the winner of its inaugural Landscape Award is Grant Associates with its Bay South at Gardens by the Bay project in Singapore. An expert panel of judges comprised of Jon Akers Coyle from Gillespies, Mary Bowman of Gustafson Porter, Dr Markus Jatsch from Martha Schwartz Partners and Angus Bruce from HASSELL (judging remotely from Australia) were quick to select this dramatic scheme for the top prize.

Bay South at Gardens by the Bay is a mammoth project which first came to our attention in 2006 when the team of Grant Associates, Wilkinson Eyre and Atelier 10 won a competition organised by the National Parks Board of Singapore for one of the most ambitious landscape schemes ever attempted. Sited on the edge of the Kallang River, the astounding design more than holds its own in the face of Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands which looms across the water.

Supporting the external landscaped areas are two Cooled Conservatories (the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest) while outside, eighteen Supertrees of 25 to 50m in height are dotted throughout biodiverse public gardens. These vertical forests are the ‘environmental engines’ for the conservatories and create at shaded grove a ground level while placing the complex firmly on the Singapore skyline.

For Mary Bowman, it’s the impression that the project gives to the wider community that demands applause. She explains: “I think that it’s great that it has acquired this level of notoriety and interest, and really put landscape to the fore. It has become a destination; it’s a bit wacky but I like that.”

Dr Jatsch agreed, but noted: “What I think needs to be put into perspective is that they had a huge budget which is probably very unrealistic anywhere else in the world; but still, they used it very wisely.” All of the judging panel were struck by the scale and ambition displayed by the design team, with Akers Coyle explaining ‘they’ve taken the lotus as an inspiration and "souped it up" and that’s what sets it apart’, while Bowman noted how very ‘Singapore’ the design was.

After some discussion, the panel returned to the criteria for the WAN AWARDS, with Bowman concluding: “I think in terms of what your brief is, does it satisfy the client’s expectations? The answer is yes, and I think the great thing was that the client was the National Parks Board of Singapore so they are themselves plant experts and were very much involved in procuring the plants and the design of the gardens.”

On a very different scale, the jurors also wished to highlight the impressive nature of Pink Balls in Montreal by Claude Cormier + Associés. This brightly-hued installation returns to the same 1km-stretch of commercial activity every year as a social artwork and ‘joyful visual articulation of artificial foliage’. Over 170,000 resin balls in varying shades of pink are suspended above the street in a ribbon-like installation.

The scheme drew gasps of delight from the jury panel, with Dr Jatsch labelling the project ‘absolutely brilliant’. Bowman was charmed by the ‘humour’ of the piece while Akers Coyle reflected: “It’s like an artificial blossom festival; you know that come summer, it’s going to arrive.”

In light of the strong concept imagined by Claude Cormier + Associés and ongoing success of this simple but effective scheme, our judges wished to award the title of Highly Commended to Pink Balls. 

Congratulations to Grant Associates and Claude Cormier + Associés on two very different but equally impressive schemes.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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