Gardens by the Bay

Lighting Planners Associates used Lumenbeam LBX to light an immersive waterfall that's the centerpiece of the Cloud Forest conservatory at Singapore's grandiose Gardens by the Bay.

After 6 years of planning and development, June 2012 saw the National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks) unveil the Gardens by the Bay, an ambitious "Garden City" spanning some 250 acres along Marina Bay. This first phase of the project includes Bay South, with Bay East and Bay Central slated for completion in the next few years.

The NParks hired landscape architecture consultancy Grant Associates and architects Wilkinson Eyre to design the master plan and architectural structures, while Lighting Planners Associates (LPA) was tasked with lighting the whole environment. Marked by the iconic "Supertrees" and domed waterfront conservatories, the Gardens are transformed into a spectacular environment in the tropical nightscape of Singapore.

LPA Principal Kaoru Mende says he and his team employed four strategies in the Gardens' lighting design: to dramatize shadow and avoid excessive light; to engage visitors gently with interactive light; to create harmony between the light and the Gardens' botanical scenery; and to visually invoke the spirit of a "living forest." The effect is what Mende describes as "entertainment with organic lighting," adding "we thought of entertaining the public with organic and eco‐friendly lighting, as it will be a crucial element of future lighting design strategies."

Part of this involved using LED luminaires, which is why Lumenpulse's Lumenbeam LBX Color Changing fixtures light the centerpiece of the Cloud Forest conservatory: a 114-foot immersive waterfall, punctuated by multi-level viewing platforms and covered in plants from the tropical montane regions. Gaurav Jain and Phraporn Kasemtavornsilpa were the LPA lighting designers who worked to this part of the project.

"It was so crucial to display the power of water through the correct illumination techniques and products," says Jain. "Lumenbeam LBX was chosen as it is one of the very few luminaires in its category having a very high light output within a compact profile. We also required a series of luminaires with DMX control so that individual fixtures could be controlled as per the movement of the waterfall that was being illuminated."

Lumenbeam LBX's sturdy construction was a persuasive consideration in lighting such a tall water feature. "Robust luminaires with highly efficient thermal management systems are very important for such conditions," explains Kasemtavornsilpa. "The waterfall was especially challenging because of its sheer height, the water vapour generated and the fact that we wanted to conceal the luminaires from the public eye while retaining the punch for the water to shine with light. We considered it very important to locate all lighting tools in such a way that the visitors to the gardens have unobstructed views."

The goal was to enthral and excite visitors. "Typically a park or a public garden may have arrays of pole lights or bollards that do not accentuate the character of the space," says Jain. "With the Gardens by the Bay, we tried to do away with the norm and create experiences that are very diverse."

"We tried to help the eye wander in the Gardens with an appropriate balance of light and shadow, and hence appreciate the beauty of the quarter-of-a-million of rare plants that are on display," adds Kasemtavornsilpa.

The waterfall is one of Grant Associates Director Andrew Grant's favorite features. "It's such a wonderful, rich experience," he says. "It really encapsulates everything we're trying to do here."

Since opening, the Gardens by the Bay have become one of Singapore's most popular attractions and have gotten rave reviews from visitors and residents alike.

Equipment Specified
10 x Lumenbeam LBX Color Changing (very narrow 6º spot)

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Location: Marina Bay, Singapore, Singapore
Market: Sports + Entertainment
Lighting Design: Lighting Planners Associates
Landscape Architect: Grant Associates
Architect: Wilkinson Eyre
Photographer: Toshio Kaneko

We thought of entertaining the public with organic and eco-friendly lighting, as it will be a crucial element of future lighting design strategies.

Kaoru Mende
Lighting Planners Associates