Singapore is scoring some big wins at this year's World Architecture Festival. In addition to taking the Building of the Year award for the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore's new Kallang River Bishan Park has been named the winner in the Landscape of the Year category. To create the vibrant new park, landscape designers Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl transformed an uninviting concrete canal into a more than 150-acre park that features a meandering river and natural wetlands.
Bishan Park is part of Singapore’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Program, a long-term initiative to transform the city-state’s bodies of water into more inviting public parks. Prior to the redevelopment of the park, a 2.7-kilometer stretch of the Kallang River was fed through an unsightly concrete drainage channel. Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl liberated the river from the concrete, allowing it to flow through the park in a more naturalistic way.
When the old canal was deconstructed, the concrete was used to build a new lookout point called “Recycle Hill.” New bridges spanning the river were also built, providing new access points to the park and the river. The park also includes space for recreation, like Tai Chi, and places where people can wade in the water.
The new park doesn’t just look nicer — it also functions functions better. Some of the plants used in the landscaping were chosen for their ability to naturally purify water, which will enable the city to maintain water quality without excessive use of chemicals. And the new river bed can hold about 40 percent more water than the old canal, because it forms a flood plain during heavy rains, helping to protect the surrounding city from flooding.