Vertical Gardens

“With a growing urban population, high-rise buildings are an increasingly prevalent feature of our global cities. Land is a major constraint in most Asian cities and in the face of high-density urbanization, the only way to build is upwards. In Singapore’s dense, urban metropolis, where land area is extremely limited, high-rise building forms have typified the urban fabric for years.”

In this installation to our #FutureofCities project; photographer Suzanne Lee focuses on the new ways in which Singapore is adapting its urban architecture to include diverse and ingenious vertical gardening projects.

These projects represent a collision of nature and contemporary architecture; their emergence signifying Singapore’s commitment to exploring new forms of vertical living which enhance the quality of life for city residents within their ever-expanding urban landscape.

  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 10.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 200)

    A group of Singaporean youths spend their weekend skateboarding on Henderson Waves bridge; Singapore's highest pedestrian bridge, built 36 meters above the road.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 16.0, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 160)

    Grand tree-like structures dominate Singapore’s 'Gardens by the Bay', with heights between 25 and 50 meters tall. The ‘Supertrees’ are planted with enclaves of plants including exotic ferns, bromeliads, orchids and vines. Their artificial tree structures perform a number of intelligent functions including cooling the park’s conservatories, providing shade in the day and illuminating the park with spectacular lighting at night. The ‘Supertrees’ and are designed to mimic the ecological function of natural trees; powering themselves with eco-friendly energy by absorbing solar power through photovoltaic cells and collecting rainwater to both irrigate the gardens and supply fountain displays. ‘Gardens by the Bay’ is an integral part of the Singapore government’s strategy to raise the quality of life in the city by enhancing the prevalence of urban greenery and flora.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 14.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 160)

    Grand tree-like structures dominate Singapore’s 'Gardens by the Bay', with heights between 25 and 50 meters tall. The ‘Supertrees’ are planted with enclaves of plants including exotic ferns, bromeliads, orchids and vines. Their artificial tree structures perform a number of intelligent functions including cooling the park’s conservatories, providing shade in the day and illuminating the park with spectacular lighting at night. The ‘Supertrees’ and are designed to mimic the ecological function of natural trees; powering themselves with eco-friendly energy by absorbing solar power through photovoltaic cells and collecting rainwater to both irrigate the gardens and supply fountain displays. ‘Gardens by the Bay’ is an integral part of the Singapore government’s strategy to raise the quality of life in the city by enhancing the prevalence of urban greenery and flora.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 14.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 160)

    People gather atop the Marina Bay Sands ‘SkyPark’ overlooking the Singapore skyline. The ‘SkyPark’, 200m above ground level, is larger than three football pitches and has an observation deck, 250 trees and a 150m infinity swimming pool.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 4.5, Shutter: 1/20, ISO: 3200

    Marina Bay Sands’ ‘SkyPark’ overlooks the Singapore skyline. The ‘SkyPark’, 200m above ground level, is larger than three football pitches and has an observation deck, 250 trees and a 150m infinity swimming pool. )

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 400)

    A salesman shows off the architectural models for high-rise serviced apartments that boast many sustainable-living features built into the architecture, including a number of sky parks and hanging gardens.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 5.0, Shutter: 1/40, ISO: 1600)

    The Pinnacle@Duxton public housing buildings (left) punctuate the Singapore skyline and melt into the city lights at night. The housing project features the world's two longest sky gardens at 500 metres each. The seven towers forming The Pinnacle@Duxton are the world's tallest public housing buildings with a total of 1,848 units of housing.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 4.5, Shutter: 1/25, ISO: 1250)

    Singapore skyline at night.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 6.3, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 400)

    People walk past the Ocean Financial Centre vertical garden in the heart of the Commercial Business District in downtown Singapore. The Vertical Garden at Ocean Financial Centre is the largest potted system vertical garden in the world, spanning about 110 metres in length and 20 metres in height. It holds 51,000 pots and 25 plant species, planted in the shape of the world map.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 6.3, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 1250)

    People walk past the Ocean Financial Centre vertical garden in the heart of the Commercial Business District in downtown Singapore. The Vertical Garden at Ocean Financial Centre is the largest potted system vertical garden in the world, spanning about 110 metres in length and 20 metres in height. It holds 51,000 pots and 25 plant species, planted in the shape of the world map.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 9.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 400)

    Pedestrians walk past the Parkroyal hotel which claims to have vertical foliage coverage totaling more than 200% of the structure’s total land area, effectively using vertical greenery to replace the original greenery that was lost to build the hotel. The 12-storey-high tower features massive curvaceous, solar-powered sky-gardens that overlook the city park in the central business district of Singapore.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 14.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 400)

    Pedestrians walk past the Parkroyal hotel which claims to have vertical foliage coverage totaling more than 200% of the structure’s total land area, effectively using vertical greenery to replace the original greenery that was lost to build the hotel. The 12-storey-high tower features massive curvaceous, solar-powered sky-gardens that overlook the city park in the central business district of Singapore.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 13.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 320)

    Pedestrians walk past the Parkroyal hotel which claims to have vertical foliage coverage totaling more than 200% of the structure’s total land area, effectively using vertical greenery to replace the original greenery that was lost to build the hotel. The 12-storey-high tower features massive curvaceous, solar-powered sky-gardens that overlook the city park in the central business district of Singapore.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 9.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 800)

    Tourists walk through the ‘Cloud Forest’ in ‘Gardens by the Bay’. The area is a popular relaxation destination for many local residents escaping the humid heat of Singapore. The Cloud Forest conservatory replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions. ‘Gardens by the Bay’ is an integral part of the Singapore government’s strategy to raise the quality of life in the city by enhancing the prevalence of urban greenery and flora.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 20.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 320)

    Tourists walk through the ‘Cloud Forest’ in ‘Gardens by the Bay’. The area is a popular relaxation destination for many local residents escaping the humid heat of Singapore. The Cloud Forest conservatory replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions. ‘Gardens by the Bay’ is an integral part of the Singapore government’s strategy to raise the quality of life in the city by enhancing the prevalence and ingenuity of urban greenery and flora.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/60, ISO: 800)

    Singaporeans walk past the ‘Rainforest Rhapsody’; a 2000 sq ft indoor vertical garden installed in the lobby of 6 Battery Road, which contains 120 different plant species. In Singapore, sky-rise greenery helps to reduce the ‘urban heat island effect’, adding a layer of insulation to buildings which reduces heat absorption.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 11.0, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 160)

    Marina Bay Sands’ ‘SkyPark’ overlooks the Singapore skyline. The ‘SkyPark’, 200m above ground level, is larger than three football pitches and has an observation deck, 250 trees and a 150m infinity swimming pool.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 8.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 160)

    The sun sets on the Singapore skyline.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 18.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 200

    Located in a quiet corner of Singapore’s District 23, Tree House is a 24-storey condo building that boasts the world’s largest vertical garden and features state-of-the-art sustainable technologies. The building’s green wall saves more than $500,000 in energy and water costs annually by acting as both natural insulation and a rainwater harvesting system. The building also houses three sky-gardens on its 7th, 13th and 19th floors.

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  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 18.0, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 200)

    The Pinnacle@Duxton is a collection of public housing buildings that punctuate the Singapore skyline. The Pinnacle@Duxton towers are the world's tallest public housing buildings, accommodating a total of 1,848 units of housing. The project also features the world's two longest sky gardens at 500 meters each.

    Open fullscreen
  • Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Suzanne Lee

    Singapore: Vertical gardens

    Sony α7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA (F-Stop: 7.1, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 200)

    Ships line the coast as the morning fogginess lifts from a groggy Singapore cityscape.

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About Suzanne Lee

Suzanne Lee is a self-taught photographer and videographer living between Malaysia and India. Dividing her time between long-form personal documentary photography projects and assignments - she regularly works for leading publications worldwide. She also works on multimedia projects for developmental organisations such as International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Save the Children UK, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Suzanne is currently working on a photo book project on modern slavery with Legatum Foundation/Geneva Global.

Suzanne’s long-form photojournalistic works have been awarded in the DAYS Japan International Photojournalism Awards (2011), the Angkor Photo Festival (2007), and were nominated for the 2012 and 2010 UNICEF-GEO Photo of the Year Awards. 

Suzanne's bodies of work have been exhibited in print and multimedia exhibitions in galleries internationally as well as in photography festivals including the Yokohama Photojournalism Festival (Japan, 2011), Ping Yao International Photography Festival (China), Angkor Photo Festival (Cambodia, 2007 & 2010) and Photokina (Germany, 2012). Her solo exhibitions have been shown in Museum Ecomusee Forges et Moulins de Pinsot (France) as well as the 2013 Obscura Photography Festival (Malaysia).

Suzanne joined Panos as a full member in 2014 and is a Sony Global Imaging Ambassador.

Interview

Describe the moment you knew photography changed your life

It was a moment of profound realization. A sense of deep satisfaction and calm.

It was a certain calm from within, and a hardened resolution to contribute my share of interpretation to a global voice, rich with visual documentary narratives.

If you could sum up your work in one word or one sentence, what would that be?

A cumulative body of work that illustrates my beliefs, observations and emotions.

What is the most remarkable person, place or thing you have ever photographed and why?

The child miners in the coal mines of India.

When I’m working on my project Minor Miners, I am hit constantly with the harsh realities and unending cycle of poverty and struggle that the child miners are caught in. The challenges these children face are remarkable - their resilience and dignity is profound and their determination striking.

Talk to us about your bucket list... what is on the top of that list of things to photograph?

I am in the initial stages of a project on climate change and sustainable living. Many photographers are also working on commendable projects on this issue but I want to add to the conversation of global warming from fresh angles.

I am also a contributor to the Instagram feed @EverydayClimateChange, and I believe that this social media initiative has a great capacity to open dialogues and inform a global audience of the effects of climate change through visual evidence.

Climate change isn’t just a polar bear issue - it is real and borderless. It will impact us all and it will be irreversible, but we can slow the rate of climate change down by changing our lifestyles. 

If you had not become a photographer, what might you be today?

A sportswoman!

Give us your thoughts about the Global Imaging Ambassadors programme?

In this age of digital madness, and the megapixel warfare - I find it incredible that Sony listens intently to photographers through this programme and takes their feedback seriously.

The programme is unique in that it fully supports the photographers, allowing us the artistic freedom to have complete creative control of the visual narratives in our work. Collaborations such as these, between camera manufacturers and photographers are hard to come by and I feel thoroughly privileged and honored to be a part of it.

What is your favorite Sony camera of the moment?

The a7S and RX1 are my two favorites at the moment, though I would love to have a try of the a7II at some point. I tend to shoot a lot in dark situations so the low level of digital noise and the image stabilizer would be a great feature to assist me in such situations. My favorite features in the a7S are its video capabilities and silent mode. The file quality, dynamic range and physical size of the RX1 is a combination incomparable to any other digital camera I have used in the past. The colors and dynamic range across the board of the a7 series has been astounding.

 

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