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Infinite Possibilities in the Singapore Skyline: Marina Bay Sands Skypark

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on September 26, 2015 at 11:51 AM

‘Wow!’ is only an expression, but one that was probably coined specially for Singapore. It’s a city-state that beats the odds and comes up the clear winner over all its higher ‘seeded’ competitor countries on almost any parameter one can think of. This tiny island of barely 700 sq kilometres in the sea south of Malaysia, most parts of which are no higher than 15 m above sea level and many areas just reclaimed from the sea, displayed exemplary foresight and fortitude in choosing to build high to beat its shortage of land, to accommodate an unbelievably high scale, multi-cultural, multi-industrial, energetically pulsating, thriving economic hub that stands at par with the most developed ones in the world. Singapore attracts state guests, business tycoons, intrepid travellers, holidaying tourists, shopping enthusiasts and cultural aficionados alike as it has artfully displayed its ability to be the wonderland of possibilities. And, as its befitting gateway stands the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort at the Marina Bay area, its 55 storey high triple towers crowned by the awesome skypark spanning across them in the sky, framing between them vistas of Singapore downtown, beckoning the visitor to explore its infinite possibilities.  

© Courtesy of Internet Resources

The Resort

Estimated to be the world’s most expensive casino resort at S$ 5 billion inclusive of the cost of the prime land it is located on, the 929,000 sq m Marina Bay Integrated Resort features, other than the 55 storey high triple towers of the hotel topped by the skypark, the expansive Sands Expo and Convention Centre, the ArtScience Museum, the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Mall, two large theatres, seven celebrity chef restaurants, two floating crystal pavilions, a large artificial ice skating rink and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. 

Developed by Las Vegas Sands Corporation and designed by Boston based ingenious and unfettered architect Moshe Safdie, it opened to the public in February 2011 and has since enjoyed its position as Singapore’s prime attraction with all its uncompetable options. In fact, it had a long grand opening all phased out over eight month owing to the complexity and colossal scale of the project. 

Five international artists were handpicked by Moshe Safdie and commissioned to create monumental art installations on the property. The ArtScience Museum is lotus shaped with a retractable roof while most of the other roofs in the hotel have been planted with exotic fauna. Another alluring feature is the waterfall through this retractable roof, a 22 m diameter acrylic bowl resting on tonnes of steel framework designed by Ned Kahn as the ‘rain occulus’, that pours from a height of two storeys into the canals below, where Sampan rides are available to take the tourists along to the shoppes. In the evening, this opens up to make way for a water and laser show, credited to be the largest in Southeast Asia, to be viewed from the events plaza. All of this truly displays the designers’ eagerness to maximise the visitors’ experience and offer Singapore on a single piece of property.

The Hotel

The hotel constitutes 2,560 luxury rooms in three 55 storey high towers, to build the enormous slopes of which the engineers at Arup had to work out a temporary strut and cable system. Though the struts were removed after construction, the cables remained grouted to the hotel’s concrete shear walls. At the bottom of these towers is a low rise expansive podium which houses the convention centre, museum, mall and other attractions, but leaves no space for outdoor amenities. To solve this problem, Safdie is fabled to have introduced the uber bold concept of the skypark to crown his colossus.

The Skypark

Bridging across the tops of all three towers and even extending beyond, at 656 feet in the Singapore sky, this 3 acre skypark is a colossus in itself. The 213 feet long cantilevered end of this terrace, one of the largest in the world, is supposed to have been a result of Feng Shui consultations, added to the original idea of restricting the terrace to the towers’ footprint, ‘to give the total form directionality’.

Not surprisingly, this acknowledged engineering marvel was achieved after overcoming enormous structural and constructional challenges and carrying out umpteen wind tests and modelling exercises. The huge trusses that span the towers and hold up terrace are covered by cladding with 9000 metal composite panels all the way upto the underside of the hull-shaped cantilever. The cantilevered hull was built offsite in 14 segments, each of which was transported to site and lifted into place by hydraulic jacks and assembled on the towers. Catwalks are put in place in between the transverse girders for maintenance inspections.  Offices for hotel operations and mechanical rooms housing water tanks for the swimming pools are also contained within the hull.

This marvellously engineered 220 m high mega terrace accommodates gardens, a 151 m long infinity pool with elaborate poolside decks, restaurants, jogging tracks and a huge public observatory deck on its cantilevered end. One only needs to imagine the exuberance of experiencing a 360’ view of Singapore from this mega belvedere in the sky, a result of the mix of ambition, audacity and ingenuity on part of its makers.

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