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Tree's a Crowd

With 160ft ‘supertrees’, botanical gardens and eco-friendly policies, Singapore is a world leader when it comes to sustainability. Discover why we’re giving the Lion City the green light.

By Steph Green

Read time - 3 min




AS WE LIVE AND BREATHE

Walking through the streets of ‘garden city’ Singapore is a breath-taking experience. Thanks to innovative architecture, the natural world is artfully woven into the very fabric of the city. Ferns emerge from the crevices of the modern buildings, grey and gleaming under the tropical sun. Tree-shaped futuristic sculptures stand proud, reflecting a symbiotic relationship between the natural world and technology. A warm breeze snakes between the structures and rustles the leaves, almost giving the impression of breathing. Here, each high-rise possesses its own pair of lungs.

When Singapore gained its independence in the 1960s, it wasn’t in the best environmental shape. Urbanization had resulted in deforestation, smog overwhelmed the streets, and the island had lost 95% of its natural habitats. The government soon committed itself to the Singapore Green Plan, which sought to transform the island state into a true ‘garden city’. The plan worked. According to the Environmental Performance Index, Singapore is officially the most sustainable city in Asia.

LATE BLOOMER

Singapore’s most astonishing ode to nature can be found at Gardens by the Bay. The government literally broke new ground when they forged the site from a city expansion. This resulted in the creation of one of the largest freshwater city reservoirs in the world. Eighteen tree-like structures reaching up to 160 feet tall sit within 250 acres of this reclaimed land. A stone’s throw away you can discover The Flower Dome, the largest greenhouse in the world. Its verdant neighbor, the Cloud Forest, recreates the cool conditions of a tropical mountain range. The entire complex is a visual phenomenon that must be seen to be believed.

Interconnecting high-rise paths and bridges link structures like a plant’s branching roots in the earth. This has revolutionized the ability for Singaporeans to favour cycling and walking over other fuel-guzzling transport methods. Both literally and metaphorically, the concept of building bridges has been transformative. Most structures in the city are adorned with atriums, trellises, sky gardens and vertical hanging gardens. However, the beautiful architecture intertwined with lush greenery isn’t merely for show or symbolism. Roofs are fitted with rainwater collecting devices. Vertical gardens, with façades dotted with ferns, pump restorative oxygen through the streets. This helps to reduce heat and improve air quality. This is imperative considering Singapore’s often oppressive climate. It decreases the need for air conditioning, which emits greenhouse gases. Astonishingly, these ‘certified green’ buildings make up one fifth of the entire island-state’s infrastructure. Singapore’s green innovation hasn’t yet reached a plateau. The government aims to achieve a 35 percent reduction in the energy intensity of its economy by 2030.

ON THE RAILS

Loyal to Singapore’s environmentally forward outlook, we have an ethical way for travellers to enjoy the East. In line with a global desire to reduce our carbon footprint, train travel, or green travel, is becoming increasingly popular. Abstain from aeroplanes and journey to Singapore via the Eastern & Oriental Express. Studies show that traveling by train instead of by plane can cut CO2 emissions by up to 90%.

Our storied and elegant carriages transport guests both between cities and back in time. The Eastern & Oriental Express train launched in 1993, using repurposed and remodelled carriages built by Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi in Japan. Carriages are decorated with greens and golds, reflecting our predilection for both nature and opulence. Marvel at the evolving landscape as you journey from Thailand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. The lush views are best observed from the authentic colonial-style décor of our observation car. Taking inspiration from the places we travel to, especially when it positively impacts the planet, is our pride and joy.

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