The Learning Forest is a new 9.8 hectares extension to the existing Singapore Botanic Gardens.
The land was previously a mature secondary forest (Tyersall forest) in the south, and in the north a small stream flowed through a steep valley surrounded by clumps of large Albizia trees. The site was previously separated from the Botanic Gardens by Tyersall Avenue, which also catered for limited car and coach parking.
The Learning Forest has been designed with new wetlands, visitor facilities, replacement parking, and themed walks encompassing a wide variety of forest, bamboo and wetland plant collections whilst also conserving and improving the existing southern forest.
The character of the Learning Forest is intended to be natural, wild, and adventurous. Elements such as the canopy walkways through the forest, the canopy web, wetland boardwalks, stepping stones, and bridges, enable visitors to experience the forest and the wetland areas in new ways.
Visitor facilities such as the interpretive shelter, coach/car drop off area, and toilets were restricted to the disturbed northern portion of the site. The old Tyersall Avenue alignment was used for construction access to avoid disturbance to existing vegetation, and along with the old Istana access road (Canarium Drive), will serve as a walkway and maintenance route.
- The Wetlands Elevated Boardwalk - provides spectacular high-level views of the wetlands and the across open water area.
- The SPH Walk of Giants & Canopy Web - enables visitors to experience the transition of walking between the forest giants – trees that can ultimately grow to 50m in height. At the Canopy Web area visitors can recline on two large rope mesh areas at a height of 6m above the forest floor.
- Keppel Discovery Wetlands – visitors can get close to the water and marginal plants
- Themed Plant Collections – apart from the many habitats represented around the wetlands and in the forest. Themed collections to educate include Durian Theory, Bark of Trees, Products of the Forest, and The Wild Relatives of Fruit and Nuts. The Botanist Boardwalk is themed with plants named after famous botanists and prominent figures from the Botanic Gardens past.
Some of the key challenges of the project were the undulating and often steep topography and achieving barrier free access, and the working area restrictions we imposed to prevent damage and disturbance to the forest areas and existing vegetation during construction operations.
We used the topography to our advantage by designing the canopy walkways, boardwalks, and bridge crossings that provided BFA routes that could be independent of the ground levels. This also enabled ever changing and spectacular views since visitors of all abilities and ages can experience walking through the forest canopy and enjoy wide panoramic views of the wetlands.
Project title: Learning Forest @ Singapore Botanic Gardens
Where/ Address: Singapore Botanic Gardens
Completion date: 31 March 2017
Site Area: 9.8 hectares
Client: National Parks Board (NParks) / Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG)
Full List of Consultants:
- Lead Consultant & Landscape Architect: Stephen Caffyn Landscape Design
- C&S Engineer: ARUP Singapore Pte Ltd
- M&E Engineer: ARUP Singapore Pte Ltd
- Environmental Specialist: DHI Water & Environment (S) Pte Ltd
- Quantity Surveyor: Turner & Townsend
- Submission Architect: CL.K Architects
List of implementing partners:
- Main Contractor: Toh Kim Bock C-E Contractor Pte Ltd
- NSC Softscape Contractor: Prince’s Landscape & Construction Pte Ltd