Singapore’s CapitaSpring: ‘Biophilic’ skyscraper bursting with 80,000 plants opens
Finding room for green spaces is a challenge in any city, let alone the world’s most densely populated ones. So in downtown Singapore, anyone looking for a new park to stroll in may need to turn toward the sky.
A third of the way up the recently completed CapitaSpring tower, the soaring glass and aluminum facade seemingly bursts open to reveal plants and trees growing hundreds of feet above ground. At street level, passersby and office workers can line up for an elevator leading to this so-called “Green Oasis” — a spiral garden path that winds past exercise equipment, benches and tables on its journey through four stories of tropical flora.
The building’s public “Green Oasis” occupies floors 17 through 20. Credit: Courtesy Finbarr Fallon/Bjarke Ingels Group
There is more above the Oasis: On the building’s top floor, visitors can stroll through a 4,500-square-foot rooftop farm that supplies fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers to three on-site restaurants. During CNN’s visit to the building, an urban farmer tending the garden estimated that it generates 70 to 100 kilograms, or 154 to 220 pounds, of produce each month.
A publicly accessible urban farm stands 919 feet above ground. Credit: Courtesy Finbarr Fallon/Bjarke Ingels Group
“Due to the unique character of Singapore’s urbanism — both extremely dense and green — we decided to make the design a vertical exploration of tropical urbanism,” BIG’s founder, Bjarke Ingels, said in a statement, adding that the tower is “like a vision of a future in which city and countryside, culture and nature can coexist.”
The 919-foot-tall CapitaSpring building is among Singapore’s tallest skyscrapers. Credit: Courtesy Finbarr Fallon/Bjarke Ingels Group
A ‘garden city’
CapitaSpring is one of several eye-catching biophilic buildings to have opened in Singapore’s Downtown Core district in recent years. A few blocks away, the Parkroyal Collection Pickering hotel features over 160,000 square feet of greenery, with a series of balconies overrun with trees and plants. Less than a mile to its south, the once-red exterior of the Oasia Hotel is slowly turning green as more than 20 species of creepers and vines colonize its facade.
In a country that packs almost 6 million people into an area less than half the size of London, building green spaces is not merely an act of corporate generosity — it is a legal requirement in some areas.
The design features 90,000 square feet of landscaped areas. Credit: Courtesy Finbarr Fallon/Bjarke Ingels Group
And there is, perhaps, no greater source of social activity in Singapore than its hawker centers, the island’s ubiquitous cooked food markets.
CapitaSpring’s “Green Oasis.” Credit: Courtesy Finbarr Fallon/Bjarke Ingels Group
The creation of CapitaSpring involved the demolition of one that had stood on the site since the 1980s. But earlier this year, a new 56-stall hawker center opened on the building’s second and third floors, with some of the original food-sellers returning after four years of construction work. The center is owned and managed, like all of Singapore’s cooked food markets, by the government.
The hawker center’s success may ultimately signal whether the building has become what Ingels describes as a “diverse neighborhood of places to work, live and play.”