THE NEXT 10 YEARS
When COVID-19 hit, tourists stopped coming to Singapore and to Gardens by the Bay. But to the team’s surprise, locals descended upon the gardens with a vengeance.
In 2021, Gardens by the Bay saw a record 8 million local visitors.
Locals began to realise that there were other parts of the gardens beyond the Supertree Grove, the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome, said Ms Ong.
“When things like that happen, we realise that actually day in day out, this maintenance job that we are doing, it means something to the people, since we are a public garden. It’s actually important to them, especially during the pandemic because it’s an escape for them,” said Mr Tan.
But as the pandemic wore on, the gardens struggled with a shortage of manpower, with contractors and workers under lockdown in dormitories.
With fewer than 15 horticulturalists working on site, even the more senior members of the team had to chip in to help maintain the gardens.
“It’s very different from seeing crowds … to no one there at all. When we actually opened, we were really glad that people started to come (back),” said Ms Loh.
The Gardens by the Bay that Singaporeans know today, with its domes, Supertrees and the expansive garden in the Bay South area, is just the first stage, said Ms Ong.
The Bay East area near Marina Bay Golf Course is now under development, in conjunction with a Founder’s Memorial.
Construction for the garden is due to start next year and will be completed in 2027. There are also plans to develop a garden in Bay Central, close to the Singapore Flyer and Formula 1 track.
“We must always renew it. There are new things coming up, to make the garden exciting. They’ll be all connected eventually. It’ll be so interesting, you can spend days around it,” said Ms Ong, adding that each garden will be “quite different”.
“We develop over different phases to also learn from the earlier gardens, but also as time changes, how we catch up to the needs of the people.”