GPW: Orchard Central Mall Greenwalls

December 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm Project of the Week: 12/12/11
Orchard Central Mall Greenwalls
2,207 sf. of Greenwalls

Year: 2009
Owner: Far East Organization
Location: Singapore
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Green Façade
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 2,207 sq. ft.
Slope: 100%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public

Project Description & Details

Orchard Central Mall is Singapore’s tallest and first vertical pure-retail mall with 11 storeys above ground and two basement levels. Orchard Central boasts multiple outdoor viewing areas with a commanding view of Orchard Road, including three outdoor “green” balconies appealing to alfresco food & beverage outlets. The air-conditioned shopping street discovery walk and the rooftop garden are both accessible to the public 24 hours a day.

The Singapore Institute of Architects and National Parks Board award-winning project features three large living walls and balcony rail on the 11th floor and 2 lower green walls on the 12th floor roof terrace. Elmich Green Wall’s Vertical Greening Modules (VGM) provide the modular system comprising a geotextile bag filled with soil-less lightweight planting media, pre-planted in a nursery environment to allow for plant establishment. The VGMs are encased in metal support frames on-site and mounted onto anchoring pilasters; an automated drip irrigation and fertilization system was also installed. The planted walls complement and create the atmosphere for alfresco dining as well as serve to substantially cool the areas immediately adjacent to the walls.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Developer: Far East Organization
Architect: DP Architects Pte Ltd, Singapore
Landscape Architect: DLQ Design Pte Ltd
Landscape Contract Owner: Nature Landscapes Pte Ltd
Green Roof and Green Wall Specialist: Elmich Pte Ltd
Intensive Greenroof System: Elmich Landscape Roof
Modular Greenwall System: Elmich Green Wall

Additional Info

A city-state of high rise buildings, Singapore is becoming reknown for its  “skyrise greenery” and continuous efforts in making it a “City in a Garden.”

Here, and known throughout Southeast Asia, Orchard Road is the fashion, retail and entertainment hub with shopping centers (more than 40), dining and pubs galore.  Orchard Road got its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards or the plantations that the road led to in the mid-1800s.  Commercial development of the area began in the twentieth century, with a surge in the 1970s (read more in  Wikipedia).

Located at the heart of Orchard Road, the new high-end Orchard Central Mall  replaced Specialists Shopping Centre and had a soft opening in July, 2009.  The mall boasts 160m frontage along this shopping belt of Singapore.

The  12-floor  Orchard Central Mall features  “˜cluster-concept’ shopping (8 clusters separated by categories) with a wide variety of specialty shops that are not available elsewhere.  Hard to imagine, but the mall is served by a total of 52 escalators (including 6 super escalators) and 12 glass elevators -6  express lifts move between 500 and 2,000 ft/min!  The super escalator at the front of the entrance, left below, enables shoppers to step off from the street and go straight up into the mall:

In the background of the photo above right you can see one of the flourishing greenwalls on the property.  Yet it also showcases a 24-hour public garden at the roof top, complete with tropical landscaping on the ground and various vertical greenery offerings.

In 2009, the  Orchard Central Mall won 1st Prize in the Completed Projects category in the Skyrise Greenery Awards for outdoor green balconies and extensive greenery, inside and out.  The award aims to promote skyrise greenery in Singapore and to recognize the greening efforts in high rise developments by owners/developers, architects, landscape architects/designers, and landscape contract managers.

“As Orchard Road’s first new mall in four years Orchard Central brings a breath of fresh air with urban green verandas, a 140-metre Discovery Walk on the first storey, and the lusciously landscaped sky gardens on the 11th and 12th storeys.

An extensive green wall up to 13 metres high stretches from the 11th to 12th storeys to create a “˜green blanket’ that is highly visible from Orchard Road.

The biological pond on the 12th storey creates the atmosphere of a water garden and offers an unforgettable experience while dining in the sky gardens’ restaurants.” ~  Skyrise Greenery Awards 2009 Completed Projects 1st Prize

Adjacent to the restaurant, this sky garden is both  beautiful and an inviting green space for patrons and visitors, although locals say there are not enough seats for relaxing.

“Amidst this blanketed green roof, art also thrives. At the foot of the vertical wall is Yayoi Kusama’s colourful Let’s Go to a Paradise of Glorious Tulips (2009), adorned with her trademark polka dots.  This sculpture acts as a stark contrast to the grey backdrop of the peaking buildings “” a perspective that creates a heightened awareness of visitors’ location.” ~POSKOD.SG by Amanda Fay Tan

Elmich systems are found throughout the multiple levels – Elmich VGM units on the walls with VersiCell in planter boxes and  Elmich Landscape Roof gor the greenroof system.

For irrigating the walls, an equal amount of water is injected to the root zone via a Netafim drip system and the greenroofs are irrigated using Netafim UniTechline AS.

Along with tons of other spots, I’m sorry we didn’t get to see the Orchard Central Mall greenroof and greenwalls when we visited Singapore in November, 2010 (when I spoke at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference) but it will be on our list the next time we do!

See the Orchard Central Mall Greenroofs project profile in the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database here.

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

GPW: Ngee Ann Polytechnic”™s Vertical Extensive Green Wall Testing Facility

October 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm Project of the Week: 10/17/11
Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Vertical Extensive Green Wall Testing Facility
323 sf.  Greenwall

Year: 2009
Owner: Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Location: Singapore
Building Type: Educational
Type: Living Wall, Test/Research
System: Custom
Size: 323 sq. ft.
Slope: 100%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public

Project Description & Details

Early efforts to green up walls and flyovers vertically in Singapore began about 40 years ago with the use of creepers and ornamental plants to increase the aesthetic values. Current vertical greening planter systems implemented in Singapore were mainly from overseas which tend to be heavy, difficult to install and suited for deep rooted plants.

The Landscape Design and Horticulture programme from the School of Life Sciences and Chemical Technology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic embarked to develop “simpler” green walls for high rise buildings where 90% of residences are dwellers. The 2-year research on sustainable plant species for the green wall involved 40 students and the outcome was a 12m x 2.5m vertical extensive green (VEG) system implemented in 2009. The VEG comprised of 120 polypropylene panels (50 x 50 x 3cm) that were pre-grown with shallow rooted vegetative cuttings and plantlets. Eleven species of grass, bromeliad, creeper and fern on shallow panels filled with cocopeat (2% osmocote) were tested for their long term growth performance.


Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Green Wall Design: Gregory Chow, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Green Wall Construction & Irrigation: Microwet Engineering Pty Ltd
Plant Sourcing, Planting & Growing Services: Landscape Design & Horticulture, Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Additional Info

Since over 90% of people in Singapore reside in high rise public housing, infrastructure needs are built on this model.  For example, public transportation is readily within sight, let alone walking distance, to the vast majority of these high density multi-family dwellings.  And greening the built environment is taken very seriously here as well – more so on horizontal spaces such as rooftops, or sky gardens as they are commonly referred to here, sky bridges and other connecting devices.

Above is a shot I took from when we visited Singapore last November (when I spoke at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference) where you can see multitudes of housing blocks, and below notice all the greenroofs already in place:

Greenwalls are becoming another very popular “skyrise greenery” element, as well, and there is a growing industry and government help to support it.  And now indoor greening is also getting attention after the success of the  Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Vertical Extensive Green Wall Testing Facility.

After an October 2009 student design competition where students were  “tasked to create a portable do-it-yourself vertical greenery system,”  National Parks Board  Singapore’s Centre For Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE) Research collaborated with the Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Life Sciences and Chemical Technology and School to develop a simple, inexpensive and attractive vertical greening system for residential homes.

Borrowing some of the ideas from student  submissions,  researchers from CUGE and Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturers then “put their heads together to draw out some of the good ideas behind the students’ submission and created a product that is user-friendly and practical for home owner.”  Long Seen Hui and Gregory Chow continue:

“The final invention consists of a stackable  system of modules for the support. Each unit  can work singly, or in stacks of threes or sixes. The single units and those in stacks of threes may be free- standing on the floor, while the three- or six-unit system can be mounted onto the wall. The single units can also be displayed as miniature gardens on the table.

The system is simple to assemble, easy to  maintain and aesthetically pleasing. Already  patent-registered, it is designed to fit in  most living rooms, balconies or other suitable locations in the homes. Users are able to  arrange series of flexible and modular vertical  systems to suit their imaginations when greening their walls to provide a maximum impact.

The self-regulating water requirement in each  planting module allows a steady water supply  over extended periods. With an efficient drainage system, plant stress due to lack of water or over watering is prevented, thus removing the guess work on manual watering and providing a healthy growing environment indoors.” ~  Vertical Greenery for Interior Spaces Made Easy: DIY Vertical Greenery at Home


The second task at the  Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Vertical Extensive Green Wall Testing Facility  was to evaluate shallow rooted plant species for its growth habit, disease susceptibility, nutrient deficiencies and its maintenance requirement.

An instructional DVD along with an instruction booklet is available for purchase at the Garden Shop of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  Contact  Gregory Chow of  Ngee Ann Polytechnic for more information here:

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

Enter the International Skyrise Greenery Awards 2011 by July 25!

July 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm

If you are an architect who is a member of Arcasia Institutes or the International Union of Architects, then you need to consider submitting a project to the prestigious Skyrise Greenery Awards 2011 which recognizes greening efforts in high rise developments in Singapore and internationally:

“Skyrise Greenery is a concept that integrates green elements into the built environment. As physical living conditions become increasingly stratified, we need to look to innovative Skyrise Greenery to offer a sphere of new possibilities in our physical and social environments. It represents a vision to evolve our ever-intensifying cities into urbanscapes that are dynamic in more environmental and sustainable ways.

The Skyrise Greenery Awards aim to promote and reward greening efforts in urban developments. The Awards recognise architects taking the lead role in provisioning for green elements from the initial design stages, working in conjunction with stakeholders to bring a project to fruition.” ~ International Skyrise Greenery Awards 2011

Jointly organized by Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) and National Parks Board (NParks), the objectives of this Skyrise Greenery Awards are:

a)       To promote Skyrise Greenery in urban developments by recognising the architect / owner / designer / management team who pays particular attention to Skyrise Greenery.

b)       To encourage creative and original landscaping ideas in Skyrise Greenery.

c)         To encourage architecture design with innovative use of greenery and landscaping to create a positive environment to live, work and play in.

d)       To highlight the importance of team effort in the implementation, carrying through of design intentions and maintenance of landscaping works in Skyrise Greenery.

Jointly organized by Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) and National Parks Board (NParks), the Skyrise Greenery Awards 2011 is now in its fourth year.  We had the pleasure of attending last year’s ceremony at the International Skyrise Greenery Conference, where I was a presenter (read all about it here).

Below are last year’s winners:

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore received the first place prize, above.

36-38 Armenian Street in Singapore took home the second place prize, above.

The third place winner was “Head for the Hill,” also known as Growing Up and 131 Queen Street in Melbourne, Australia, above.

Prizes & Awards

Winning projects will receive a National Parks Board Skyrise Greenery Award. One plaque will be presented to each of the following:

a)       Architect

b)       Owner/Developer

c)         Landscape Architect/Designer

d)       Landscape Contract Manager

Prize money shall also be awarded to the applicant of the winning entry.  Nothing to scoff at, that’s for sure:

First Prize:                         USD$8,000.00

Second Prize:               USD$5,000.00

Third Prize:                       USD$2,000.00

Important Dates

Closing Date for Registration: 25 July 2011

Closing Date for Submission: 1 August 2011

As they say, participate and be recognized in your greening efforts of high rise developments!  Click the poster below or visit Skyrise Greenery Awards 2011 to learn about submission requirements, judging criteria, and more:

Happy Skyrise Greening,

Linda V.