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Green Goes Vertical

Gustafson Porter introduces an innovative approach to green urban living at Marina One – a mixed-use development in the core of the city. Olha Romaniuk writes.

Green Goes Vertical


August 18th, 2015

Located in the heart of the business nexus of Singapore, Marina One is a new development that redefines ways in which public green spaces can be accessed, used and integrated into the built environment. The project – a collaboration between the landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter and architectural agency Ingenhoven Architects – utilises innovative modes of featuring landscape elements within the frame of the development, while seeking to set precedents for multifunctional spaces suitable for megacities and dense urban environments.


With Marina One being one of the first developments of its type to incorporate soft landscape into the building fabric, Gustafson Porter utilised knowledge gained while working with NParks on Bay East Gardens at Gardens by the Bay to build on the experience of integrating landscape within the built environment of Singapore.

“The Bay East project allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the climate and lush tropical vegetation of Singapore. We are also currently carrying out a feasibility study for an integrated sports development at Toa Payoh with CPG Architects. All of these projects have a high degree of integration between landscape and architecture where the two are seamlessly blended together,” Gustafson Porter states.


To set an exemplary standard for usable green spaces in the built environment within the tropics, the Gustafson Porter team had set out to break down the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces at Marina One. By creating a series of open spaces that were airy, located in close proximity to water features, naturally-lit, yet shaded by the vegetation around them, the team sought to enhance the use of the public realm to make it welcoming and usable by the public.

“High-rise living can separate people from the natural environment within air conditioned spaces,” says Gustafson Porter. “Having terraces and outdoor amenity spaces where people can relax and enjoy a planted environment is essential for 21st century living. Singapore is really leading the way when it comes to skyrise living.”


Comprising four towers, Marina One’s structural forms tie together at their base via an elevated public garden, called the ‘Green Heart’, creating a fluid transition between the interior and exterior of the towers. This common green space is flanked by stooped terraces (or the ‘Strata Terraces’) of paddy fields, connecting several levels of the adjacent mall via a strategically placed ramp and revealing a series of waterfalls cascading down from the towers into the underlying reflecting pool. Here, the organic curvatures provide a deliberate contrast with the rectilinear geometry of the towers and connect to the overall building exterior via a signature sinuous form.


Thereafter, several changing landscapes ascend upwards as visitors make their way to the top of the towers. ‘Cloud Garden’, ‘Green Screens’ and ‘Rooftop Gardens’ allude to the changing landscapes that visitors might encounter with changing altitudes in the natural environment and provide detached environments where visitors can escape the more lively settings in the ‘Green Heart’. The various landscapes offer a diversity of vegetation, with flora specimens sensitively selected to reflect the varying altitudes at which the terraces have been placed within the towers and with climbing vegetation serving as habitats for insects and birds and as screening devices for service facilities.


According to Gustafson Porter, the incorporation of elevated landscapes was not without its challenges. “Coordination was necessary between all disciplines to ensure that there was sufficient soil depth for planters at the upper levels. Floor slabs and cladding details needed to be able to accommodate tree pits for planting. Another challenge was represented by the tree and plant selection according to available sunlight and mature height restrictions on upper levels. In Singapore, we have been collaborating with ICN Landscape Architects, who have been fantastic,” the firm states.


Changing the perception of public space usage in the tropics and providing an optimistic outlook on the green future of cities, Marina One is positioned to set a standard for a context-appropriate development that utilises innovative tactics that work together with, not despite, the tropical climate conditions. By creating visual and physical connections within the built architectural and landscape elements, Marina One provides a precedent for innovative integration of multifunctional and multi-level green spaces within densely populated urban zones and a model for green city living.

Gustafson Porter

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