National Orchid Garden


Singapore | 2015 | Competition entry

Working with architects Wilkinson Eyre, Gustafson Porter + Bowman’s proposals for Singapore’s National Orchid respond to a brief to maintain the National Orchid Garden’s reputation as a premier orchid garden with scientific and educational value, to improve the experience for visitors, and to showcase Singapore’s contributions to the global orchid industry. Our design enhances the visitor experience by allowing orchids to be displayed in a natural environment and viewed from above. 

In researching and designing the garden, our understanding of orchids and their native environment seeks to create a compelling orchid display which engages and educates visitors. Displays features the first hybrids such as Oncidium ‘Goldana’ and the cultivars which have become the base for modern varieties. Predominant colours are yellow, orange and red. These Orchid displays appear as natural as possible by using native orchids highlighted against a backdrop of darker, lush vegetation. We also worked closely with WilkinsonEyre and Atelier One to create three enclosed spaces beneath a unifying canopy net which has a low impact on the existing landscape. The net, which is supported by a perimeter hoop structure and appears to float above the ground, will allow for the development of microclimates in the Bromeliad, Mist, and Cool House spaces. Openings in the structure allow for the long-term development of planting to grow through the structure.

To support education and hospitality requirements, we also proposed opening the central Nursery building to visitors. Here the elevated viewing tower allows views into the Nursery terraces and buildings and a glimpse of the vital activities that support the garden and displays. Arranged in linear rows which follow the topography of the hillside, the stepped level terraces facilitate easy access to the nursery beds which are covered with a simple shade canopy. 

Our design utilises a comprehensive knowledge of orchids and native planting to create an exciting and engaging display beneath an elevated walkway.
— Martin Koenig, Associate