Supertrees: Singapore’s Structures of Hope

Anastasia Fabian ’26 in Arts | May 5, 2023

Like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world, The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore are one of the wonders of the modern world and have become a distinct part of the Singapore skyline. The Gardens by the Bay is an amazing unique display of art, nature, technology, and sustainability, using technologically advanced architecture and structures to create an artistic, aesthetic, yet sustainable solution to a familiar problem we all know: energy consumption. 
As you walk into these beautiful gardens, the first thing you see are large tree-like structures towering above you. This is the Supertree Grove, and it truly is a sight to see. These Supertrees are so special because their structures are “inspired by mature trees in the rainforest.”  The Supertrees have a large array of planting panels that are installed in their “trunks,” including “various species of bromeliads, orchids, ferns, and flowering climbers which thrive in Singapore’s tropical climate,” said Stephanie Dhillon, The Gardens By the Bay’s Assistant Director. These trees are art, and when dusk falls, their amazing structures become an immersive experience entitled “Garden Rhapsody.” At night thousands of small lights on the trees sparkle as music plays, and all you can do is look up in wonder. These structures look like they come from a different planet, and the aesthetically pleasing performance the Supertrees put on every night makes people from far and wide come to see this spectacle. Another amazing part of these Supertrees is you can take an artistically immersive elevator to the top of a Supertree, nearly 50 feet high. Then you can take a sky bridge to the other 10 for an unobstructed view of the Singaporean skyline below. Or, you can go up to the very top of the Supertree Observatory to sit and relax under the sun. These Supertree structures are artistically amazing, but few know that they also promote awareness of the effects of climate change and play a role in preserving the local climate".
These Supertrees bring awareness to climate change through augmented reality technology, displayed on panels in the Supertrees observatory space. After taking the elevator up to the top of the garden,  you can see panels that show the view below, but with an impactful message. These panels show how the well-loved and glamorous city of Singapore would look after climate change has taken its toll. There are images of the skyline below being ripped apart by natural disasters like rising sea levels, hurricanes, and tornados. You can also see how increased climate temperatures would make Singapore uninhabitable. This shocking image will impact every viewer who visits, serving as a grave reminder that even the most beautiful places can be ripped apart by climate change. 
All 11 of the Supertrees in the Supertree Grove are fitted with solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into energy. This energy then “provides lighting and aids water technology within the conservatories below,” according to Kenneth Er, a forest ecologist and chief operating officer of Gardens by the Bay. Er also stated that the Supertrees’ unique shape harvests rainwater that is used for irrigation. They also mitigate ambient temperatures by absorbing and dispersing heat, serving as air intake and exhaust towers. This keeps the whole Garden cool and minimizes energy consumption. Kenneth Er hopes that people leave the garden with a sense of "how to recreate nature's balance." 
Let Singapore’s Supertrees remind you that change is possible. You don't have to design miraculous Supertrees to help out our environment! Remember that every small step we take, from throwing our food in the right bin to using less electricity, makes our campus more sustainable.