Jurong Lake Gardens (Lakeside Garden)
Developer: National Parks Board, Singapore
* CPG Consultants Pte Ltd
* Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl
Location: Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore
Located on the west side of Singapore, Lakeside Garden is a 53-hectare garden that seeks to restore the landscape of a pre-existing freshwater swamp forest that once stood on the site. Opened in April 2019, it was developed as the first phase of the 90-hectare Jurong Lake Gardens. Once complete, the entire facility will function as the leisure component of the city’s upcoming second CBD known as Jurong Lake District, which has been earmarked for development as part of the Singaporean government’s long-term master plan to decentralise away from the existing city centre.
Planners need to create an appealing environment for Jurong Lake District because the neighbourhood is known historically as an industrial area where people and businesses are reluctant to migrate. According to one locally-based juror, “sustainability is a key concept for the development of the second CBD, and the [Lake] Garden is an important component of that. It sets the theme for the entire area – the goal is to make the whole place very green, clean, and enjoyable.”
The need to satisfy the preferences of existing residents was also important, prompting authorities to embark on an extensive multi-year engagement exercise, many of whose findings were incorporated into the final design. Today, numerous community-oriented events continue to promote engagement with local residents.
The quality and diversity of the resulting outcome is remarkable. The garden features a large variety of themed areas, many of which – in keeping with the swampland theme – focus on water:
- The Neram Streams area was a formerly straight concrete drain extending from a neighbouring road to the lake that has been broken up into a braided series of waterways totalling 1,300 metres in length. The banks of the streams have been planted with tree species commonly found in freshwater swamp forests.
- The 3.5 hectare Grassland forms part of the intertidal habitat, transiting from dry grassland on the inland side to wet grassland at the lake itself, where it connects to a 300 metre boardwalk that meanders along the shoreline. The grasslands offer a refuge for both migratory and indigenous birds, providing a rare example in Singapore of a habitat shared by both humans and wildlife.
- Numerous playground features cater to children, including Clusia Cove, an interactive water feature that mimics tidal patterns similar to those on coastal shores. The Forest Ramble, meanwhile, is another play area, consisting of 13 adventure stations themed on different animals that inhabit freshwater swamps.
From the outset, sustainability was a key concern. The water used in Clusia Cove, fore example, is provided by a three-hectare closed-loop recycling system that treats and cleans water naturally, while the Neram Streams double up as a water catchment, slowing down rainwater runoff from surrounding estates. Allotment gardens provide community plots for local residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables. In addition, more than 3000 existing trees were preserved on the site, with 200 others transplanted, providing a connected corridor for wildlife and biodiversity.
Lakeside Garden’s success is apparent in the more than 8.2 million visitors it has drawn since its opening in 2019. More fundamentally, however, the park has emerged as a model for the restoration and landscaping of natural habitats in urban environments (in particular in terms of protecting and promoting flora and fauna) and continues to play an important role in advancing the government’s plan to decentralise the city by promoting Jurong Lake District as a second CBD. Finally, the garden also contributes to Singapore’s “City in Nature” vision, not simply in its own right, but as part of a city-wide scheme that will integrate it with other neighbourhoods via a network of park connectors and public transport.