Speech by Minister Lawrence Wong at the Opening of Bayfront Plaza at Gardens by the Bay
Apr 14, 2019
Good morning. I am very happy to join all of you today to open Bayfront Plaza, our latest addition to Gardens by the Bay.
Gardens by the Bay has done very well since its opening in 2012. I am sure if you speak to any observer, they will agree that the Gardens by the Bay has become a world-renowned garden, and a source of pride for many Singaporeans.
To date, more than 50 million guests have visited the Gardens. In fact, last year we just gave a prize to the 50 millionth visitor. This makes the Gardens easily one of the most visited gardens in the world.
Our two conservatories and Supertrees have become international icons. They are parts of our skyline recognisable to Singaporeans and tourists alike.
The Gardens’ success did not come about by chance. This was a strategic investment by the Government to carve out green space in the heart of our city – on prime land – for people to be able to relax after work, spend time with their family and friends, and connect with nature.
This is not just a one-time investment. We are continuing to invest and make the Gardens better for all to enjoy. Here, the team at GB certainly has an important role to play – from the Board, the management, to the staff – everyone in GB is continuing to work hard to see how the Gardens can be even better.
For example, we have changing shows throughout the year, like the cherry blossom show which was just completed, and the tulip show that was just opened. We have major events like the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Christmas Wonderland, which have now become popular events in the calendar.
We are constantly looking out for new attractions. Last year, we opened a new outdoor garden called the Serene Gardens, inspired by Japanese zen gardens.
Today, we are very happy to be able to open this new Bayfront Plaza. The site we are at was originally the site of the SG50 Future of Us exhibition in 2015. In fact, this iconic award-winning lattice structure was designed by students at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) specifically for the SG50 exhibition. Because it was so beautiful, we have retained, refurbished and integrated it with the design of Bayfront Plaza.
The Plaza itself also consists of a new floral-themed attraction called Floral Fantasy, which houses different garden landscapes.
You can also take a 4D simulated ride to view the Gardens from a new perspective – this is also in the Floral Fantasy attraction. This new simulator ride was developed together with ST Engineering. ST Engineering is more known for its military simulators, but I think it decided that it could expand its capability into a new area, and we are very happy to have this first-of-its-kind collaboration with a home-grown company.
We will continue to do more to ensure the Gardens remains appealing and inclusive.
First, the Gardens is enhancing its community spaces. The Bayfront Plaza itself boasts almost 2,000 square metres of indoor and outdoor community space, about one-third of a football field. Here, we will have pop-up weekend markets every weekend. These will offer a wide range of merchandise, and be a platform for social enterprises to showcase their products.
We also have the Bayfront Pavilion, which will be an indoor community space. I am happy to share that rental of the air-conditioned pavilion space will be free for community groups that wish to organise events. If you are a community group – a school, a VWO, a non-profit – and you wish to organise events, do make use of this indoor pavilion space. We hope to see more ground-up initiatives at the Bayfront Plaza to bring the community together.
The Gardens has also started work on an Active Garden – a new non-ticketed green outdoor space. This is envisioned as an inclusive space for people of all ages and abilities, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy, and it will be ready early next year.
Second, we will ensure all Singaporeans have access to the Gardens. We now have a Gift of Gardens programme which provides free admission for Singaporeans to the conservatories who have otherwise little resources to be able to visit these places.
Since the Gardens first opened, more than 90,000 Singaporeans have benefited from this Gift of Gardens programme. Many of them are lower-income, vulnerable families, as well as individuals with disabilities.
We want to do something more this year. This year is also special because it is our Bicentennial year. We want to recognise and show our appreciation for those who have contributed to building our nation.
I am very happy to announce that for a 1-year period starting this June, all Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation Singaporeans will enjoy free admission to the Flower Dome on the second Tuesday of every month. Please come and make full use of this complimentary admission.
I am very happy to also share that Madam President has agreed to be the Patron for the Gift of Gardens programme. This is an important programme for the Gardens to reach out to the community, and with Madam President’s support, I am sure we will be able to reach out to even more groups and bring more Singaporeans to enjoy the Gardens.
Third, the Gardens will be hosting an even wider variety of programmes this year.
In June, the Children’s Festival will be back. In August, we will be working with Dick Lee to showcase Singapore’s natural and cultural heritage. Over the National Day weekend, we will have a major concert featuring popular local artistes.
All of these programmes will be open to all and free-of-charge. We will be continuing to step up our programming to have an active range of events and activities throughout the year.
In a short seven years, the Gardens has grown to be an important and integral part of our city. It is something that all of us can be proud of.
It was our late founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew who recognised the value of a garden city. In his words, “we need the greenery of nature to lift up our spirits”. We are continuing this work today in improving our green spaces further to bring people together in our City in a Garden. This is reflected in the opening of the Bayfront Plaza today, along with the other community initiatives I have spoken about.
All of this is part of building a more liveable, sustainable city; a city that reflects who we are as a people – our spirit and values; a city that all of us can be proud to call home.
On this note, I encourage all of you to bring your family and friends to visit the Gardens and enjoy the various programmes lined up for you. Thank you and please enjoy the rest of the morning.