Singapore’s sustainability journey started right from the nation’s independence in 1965 before environmental issues became a global concern. We were a young developing country facing challenges such as a high unemployment rate, unskilled labour force, poor living conditions without proper sanitation, and lack of adequate public infrastructure. Our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew had a bold vision to green Singapore as he believed that “a blighted urban jungle of concrete destroys the human spirit” and “we need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits”.
Through careful and integrated urban planning and development, Singapore is now one of the world’s densest but greenest cities, with green coverage growing from 35.7% in 1986 to almost 50% today. Greenery pervades our urban landscape and is the outcome of dedicated and sustained efforts over the past few decades. Going forward, Singapore aspires to become a City in Nature to elevate the quality of life co-existing with the flora and fauna, and reap benefits of biophilia, including reduced stress, positive moods, and better cognitive skills.
Singapore also sets firm targets for greener buildings, quadrupling solar power deployment by 2025, increasing the recycling rate to beyond 70% by 2030 to reduce the waste sent to landfills; and increasing local food production to 30% by 2030. Singapore’s goals towards tackling climate change are summarized in the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which is a living plan involving everyone to co-create solutions for sustainability.
The Singapore Pavilion is designed to have minimal impact to the environment as a self-sufficient ecosystem to achieve net-zero energy over the event period. 100% of the Pavilion’s energy demands will be met by the 517 solar panels on the roof canopy. Saline groundwater drawn on-site is desalinated in the pavilion by a reverse osmosis process to cater to various needs and uses, such as irrigation and misting, achieving a closed-loop water system.
The Pavilion will feature an extensive variety of plants, including those native to Singapore. The trees and palms planted along the Pavilion’s perimeter form a unified canopy that will help to withstand strong winds, provide shade to visitors, and create a microclimate within. Sun pipes capture and funnel sunshine from the roof deep into interior spaces of the Pavilion. Together with grow lights that mimic the sun, they deliver a calibrated boost to allow plants to thrive in deeper indoor areas with low natural light. This seamless integration and co-existence of nature and architecture echoes our vision of becoming a City in Nature.
The large roof canopy shelter, lush vegetation combined with strategically placed dry mist fans create a comfortable experience for visitors despite the heat of the desert. These fans produce fine mist and, combined with evapo-transpiration cooling, lower perceived temperatures by six to ten degrees Celsius without energy-intensive air-conditioning.
The F&B menu is curated to minimise non-food waste, and for easy separating into waste that can be processed in an “EcoDigestor” to greywater and waste that will get recycled. This reduces the amount of waste to be transported off-site for recycling and saves energy as the bin rooms do not need to be air-conditioned.
The Pavilion showcases how the built environment can co-exist with nature and be comfortable for end-users even in a desert environment. As a prototype for liveable and resilient cities of the future, it is a reflection of Singapore’s ethos to sustainable development via conscious design and deliberate application of innovative and smart urban solutions.