“Vertical Garden City, Singapore” by Tan Puay Yok

November 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I received my copy of Dr. Puay Yok Tan’s new book Vertical Garden City, Singapore, 2013 a couple of weeks ago, and Wow, it is awesome!


Although clearly focused on the beautiful tropical island nation of Singapore, 192 pages of gorgeous color photos of skyrise gardens beautifully illustrate vertical and horizontal examples of greening from across the world.

“Singapore is a modern, cosmopolitan city that is claiming its place as a global city of the world. This has emerged amidst dramatic transformation of its landscapes since its founding at the start of the 19th century. This is only possible through a deliberate approach of actively reinstating greenery to replace natural spaces that have been inadvertently lost during urbanisation.

The emphasis on urban greening as a cornerstone of Singapore’s urban development approach continues today. One key strategy it has adopted is to green up its vertical spaces as the new frontier of urban greening. In little more than a decade since the idea of skyrise greening was actively promoted in the city, numerous skyrise greenery installations now dot the city’s landscapes. Several are striking architectural marvels, while others help to silently blend the buildings with its environment. How did the groundswell occur? What were the policy considerations and instruments used to promote the concept to the building industry? What more can and should be done?

Vertical garden city, Singapore describes the skyrise greening movement and efforts in Singapore, and profiles selected projects in the city that exemplify innovation, creativity and the boldness to try new ideas. This book also explores how an ecological perspective can help to derive more functions from skyrise greenery. It is a valuable resource to those who want to know more about Singapore’s efforts in greening its vertical spaces.” ~ Urban Redevelopment Authority

With forewords by one my own favorite green architects, Emilio Ambasz and Dr. Tan Wee Kiat of the amazing Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, Puay Yok acknowledges many early influences including Ian McHarg along with former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who in 1963 lead the first tree planting day in his nation and started the Garden City movement.

“Mr. Lee Kuan Yew started a rapid urban greening programme and an urban planning approach in which greenery received equal, if not more, emphasis than the expansion of buildings and infrastructure.” ~ Tan Puay Yok

Five decades later, Singapore truly is a tropical City in a Garden.

I’m pleased to say that Puay Yok asked me to contribute to his book, along with Dr. Manfred Köhler and Steven Peck.  I wrote “Worldwide Trends in Greenroof and Green Wall Implementation,” where I spoke about the Top 10 general categories of trends that we here at Greenroofs.com have been observing over the past decade or so.  Thanks, Puay Yok, for this honor!

Topics include typologies of skyrise greenery, research and development, key policies, and prospects for the future, which Puay Yok says “The Way Forward is Up.”




A large selection of Singapore’s thriving installations and signature sky gardens can found including: The Skypark at Marina Bay Integrated Resorts, School of Art, Design and Media, Solaris, Universal Studios Singapore, Marina Barrage, T3 Changi Airport, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, School of the Arts, The Pinnacle@Duxton, Reflections at Keppel Bay, Sky Gardens House, Gardens by the Bay, and many more. (Not surprisingly, over the years we have highlighted all of these in Haven Kiers and my Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design!)




School of the Arts

Available for purchase, you can either pick one up at the Urban Redevelopment Authority in Singapore, or through the mail – find out more here.

Thoughtfully presented and flawlessly published, Vertical Garden City, Singapore is not only a stunning coffee table book, its presentation of Singapore’s legacy of building green infrastructure and urban biodiversity conservation makes it an essential addition to your living architecture library!  Wouldn’t it be great if all governments could follow suit?

~ Linda V.

Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People – Some Newly Started, Almost Done, & Finished

February 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

As you know if you’re keeping up with us here at the Sky Gardens Blog, Haven Kiers and I will be taking turns highlighting some important, unusual or just stunning greenroof and greenwall projects for our new bi-monthly reporting series, “Chic Sustainability Watch.”

For my inaugural turn, rather than focus on a specific typology of chic sustainability – like Haven did with her inaugural report a couple of weeks ago on Chickens and Urban Agriculture – I’m taking a more general approach and will report on a variety of cool projects that I’ve seen across online news channels and the blogosphere that have either just broken ground, are almost completed, or have been newly opened for business and enjoyment.


Here’s one stunner that would have fit into our 2010 Top 10 List in the # 1 position – Tower Oases as Skyrise Urban Ag:

Image via: Treehugger

Swedish-American company Plantagon has just broken ground on the International Centre of Excellence for Urban Agriculture, the first of a series of massive skyscraper greenhouses in Linkoping, Sweden.  The prototype building will be an urban farming living laboratory to test new growing technologies.  This demo-plant of Swedish green technology relies on a transportation helix system where trays of plants are grown, irrigated, and harvested from the top of the “Plantscraper” on down to the basement. It’s great to see some of these visionary skyscrapers actually being built!

See Treehugger’s “Plantagon Breaks Ground On Their First Vertical Farm” by Lloyd Alter of February 14, 2012.  See the  Press Release.

Image via: Treehugger


Construction has started on the new monumental Taipei Performing Arts Center, or TPAC, in Taiwan.  OMA, a Dutch firm, beat out 135 entries from 25 countries to design the flexible, 3-volume performing platform complex that will hold a total of 3,100 seats in its three theaters.

Image via: designboom; Image © OMA

The design invites people with and without tickets into the structure with the “outdoor public loop,” and you’ll also find living architecture here at various levels.  In the section of the “Super Theatre” seen below you can see a couple of rooftops greened and the outdoor courtyards and promenades over the massive underground garage. The “Proscenium Playhouse” has similar features.

Image via: designboom; Image © OMA

See designboom’s “OMA: taipei performing arts center breaks ground” by andrea of February 17, 2012.


Downtown Miami will soon have another addition to its Museum Park – the Miami Science Museum (or MSM – not to be confused with the Miami Sound Machine!), designed by Grimshaw Architects.  Aside from some very cool exhibits such as a 600,000 gallon aquarium facility and a full dome 3-D planetarium, MSM will embrace sustainable elements and smart design including a constructed wetland, high performance ventilation and maximized site design to capture Miami breezes.

Image via: Inhabitat; Image ©Grimshaw Architects

Touted as a living building, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is a 250,000 square-foot complex that will have “a living core, vegetated roofs, and advanced systems that will allow it to physically and visibly change in response to weather, events, and the mood of the city.”

Image via: Inhabitat; Image ©Grimshaw Architects

See Inhabitat’s “Grimshaw Breaks Ground on the Miami Science Museum That Will Be Its Own Living Exhibit” by Bridgette Meinhold of February 27, 2012.


The affordable housing complex Via Verde by Jonathan Rose Companies and Dattner Architects in the South Bronx has been in the design world news for several years because of its social equity and sustainable design ethics.  In fact, we included it in our 2009 Top 10 List in the #3 position, Healthy, Efficient & Affordable Green Housing.

“You can literally walk into the courtyard and spiral your way up all of these green roofs, starting with an amphitheater, which will have summertime performances. Evergreen trees on the third floor roof, dwarfed fruit trees, the entire fifth floor roof is all gardening beds for residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Then there’s a fitness center on the seventh floor with an extensive green roof outside.” ~  Ari Goldstein, Senior Project Manager, Jonathan Rose Companies

The project is finally close to completion – the 71 co-op unit and 151 rental multi-family residence will be ready for occupancy by the end of March.  How awesome for Via Verde to be setting this new standard for affordable housing in New York City!

Image via: NY 1; click to see 2:00 video

See NY 1’s “New South Bronx Housing Complex Is Not ‘Green’ To Environmentally Friendly Ideas” by Jill Urban of February 26, 2012.


One amazing project that was just completed is Daniel Libeskind‘s residential complex Reflections at Keppel Bay in tropical Singapore – Aramis and I saw this when we visited there in November, 2010 and it was quite a sight to behold with its signature curved towers!  If only it had finished a few months earlier, Haven and I would have included it in last year’s Top 10 List for 2011 in the #1 position – Skyscraping Sky Gardens on Roofs, Walls & Skybridges.

Image via: designboom

The 6-highrise tower, 2 million sf complex has 1,129 units, and you’ll find a roof garden at the top of each tower as well as in the interconnecting skybridges.

Image via: designboom

See designboom’s “daniel libeskind: reflections at keppel bay” by lauren of February 2, 2012.


Designed by Perkins+Will, the spectacular LEED Platinum VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre in Vancouver, B.C. has just opened to the public.  Inspired by the shape of a native orchid, the multi-petal shaped greenroof was designed by Cornelia Oberlander‘s firm.  Haven and I had the pleasure of meeting Cornelia at the 2010 CitiesAlive Conference and learning a bit about this wonderful project.

In fact, we loved it so much we  included it in our  Top 10 List for 2011 in the #5 position, Green + Blue Roofs = Integrated Water Management.  Pending  certification from the Living Building Challenge,  the Visitor Centre expects to achieve net-zero energy on an annual basis through various ingenious systems.  I’ll definitely visit this one the next time I’m in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.!

See Inhabitat’s “Canada’s Gorgeous Green-Roofed VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre Opens to the Public!” by Diane Pham of February 12, 2012

Check back with us in a couple of weeks or so when it’ll be Haven’s turn to update you on our Chic Sustainability Watch: Trends, Projects & People!

Happy greening,

Linda V.