There are a lot of great reasons to incorporate more greenery into urban environments. Trees, shrubs, grass, and other plants help keep cities cooler by mitigating the urban heat island effect that occurs when materials like concrete and asphalt absorb heat and radiate it back into the urban environment. They also boost biodiversity, make cities more beautiful, and improve air quality.
It may seem like heavily developed cities don’t have a lot of room for more greenery, but Singapore is proving there are all kinds of ways to integrate it, even within skyscrapers. CapitaSpring by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Carlo Ratti Associati is the latest project to bring beautiful vegetation to Singapore’s extremely dense urban fabric.
Standing over 918 feet tall, CapitaSpring incorporates an incredible 80,000 plants spread across its 51 floors. These green spaces offer a “seamless transition between the garden and the city,” with lushly planted oases concentrated at the base, core, and roof of the building.
“As someone with Singaporean heritage, I have been honored and humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing evolution of architecture in Singapore as a distinct blending between the contemporary and the tropical,” says Brian Yang, Partner in Charge of BIG. “In our design, this manifests as a seamless transition between the garden and the city, articulated in the facades and a series of lush spiraling gardens connecting between various programs and filled with amenities representing a spectrum of use.”
“Our design seeks to continue Singapore’s pioneering vertical urbanism with the 2800-meter tall diverse neighborhood of places to work, live, and play inside as well as outside,” says Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner of BIG. “Due to the unique character of Singapore’s urbanism — both extremely dense and green — we decided to make the design a vertical exploration of tropical urbanism. At grade, the street is closed to form a new linear park and public plaza.”
Ingels adds that “a vertical park in the middle of the tower forms a spiraling promenade ascending among tropical tree trunks and canopies. On top, an urban forest feeds all the restaurants and cafés in the building and allows visitors to enjoy the lushness of the summit.”
The lower eight floors of the building contain residences with amenities like a swimming pool, jogging track, gym, jacuzzi, lounge, social kitchen, and barbecue pits. The upper 29 floors contain premium office spaces. The “Green Oasis” is in between, an open-air garden where residents, office workers, and visitors can all stroll around, gather, and relax.
Singapore is one of the 100 most crowded cities in the world, with a population of about 6 million. It’s also one of the greenest. In 1965, in the aftermath of British colonial rule, Singaporean leaders decided the nation-state would focus on becoming a “Garden City,” prioritizing green spaces and creative ways to introduce plants to the urban environment.
With limited land supply, Singapore builds upwards, encouraging architects and developers to allow skyscrapers and gardens to intertwine. Projects like Marina Bay Sands, Raffles City, Changi Airport, and now CapitaSpring serve as role models for the world, demonstrating the value of creative green spaces in growing cities.