The Kallang River Bishan Park project is a new vision for blue-green city infrastructure. As one of the flagship projects in the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme which was launched in 2006 and addresses the dual needs of water supply and flood protection while creating spaces for people and nature in the city.
The goal was to transform the Kallang River- Bishan Park into a new and unprecedented vision for blue-green city infrastructure which addresses the multiple needs of water supply and flood protection while creating spaces for people and nature in the city. And it achieved the award of Landscape Project of the Year in 2012 World Architecture Festival (WAF).
热带花卉，公园内进行太极锻炼的人们，美食佳肴，这就是新加坡的印象！作为一个缺乏含水层、并拥有接近500万人口的岛国，新加坡需要收集雨水作为饮用水来源，目前60%的淡水都依赖马来西亚调入。20世纪70年代，新加坡推行大规模的转化自然水系成为混凝土结构排水管道、沟渠，以方便雨水的有效排放、防御洪涝灾害。也正是在这一时期，加冷河被建造成为了一条混凝土结构的水道。它在当时确实缓解了问题，但在30余年之后，一条毫无自然形态的混凝土渠道已经不能满足新加坡城市基础设施的功能和景观需求。另外，这些河道和运河的安全问题也值得考虑，每次降雨之时随着水位的急速上涨都会带来一定的危险。最新的知识和技术展示了一个崭新的机会 – 运用多学科的思维和整合性的解决方案，同时满足关于城市环境之中水资源的多方面的挑战和需求。
Tropical flowers, people doing Tai Chi in the park, great food, that’s Singapore! As an island state without aquifers and with a population of nearly 5 million people, Singapore is driven by the necessity of capturing rainwater for use as drinking water, 60% of its water supply is currently piped from Malaysia into the city. In the 1970s, Singapore embarked on a widescale conversion of its natural water systems into concrete culverts and drainage channels, in an effort to facilitate the efficient conveyance of rainwater and prevent flooding. It was also during this time that Kallang River was turned into a concrete canal. One problem was solved but now 30 years later a concrete channel without a trace of nature is not anymore an acceptable element of the urban infrastructure system. In addition these channels are dangerous as it fills to a raging torrent with every rainfall and cause every year several loss of life. Recent knowledge and technology have presented a real opportunity for adopting interdisciplinary thinking and integrated solutions that could simultaneously address the multifaceted challenges and needs of dealing with water in an urban environment.
The park was built in the late 1960’s with amenities that reflected the needs and style of that time. The density in the neighbouring housing areas has increased constantly since 30 years. Bishan Park is the only big park in the surrounding and highly used which resulted in yearly visitors of more than 3 Million. Built on landfill, areas have settled causing a difficult drainage situation. The former park was more or less a monoculture: wide lawn areas with randomly located trees. There was no considerable biodiversity existing. It needed both, a face lift and a change of the offered programming as the needs have changed considerably over the last decades.
Goals of the Initiative
In 2006, Singapore’s national water agency, Public Utilities Board (PUB), initiated the Active, Beautiful and Clean (ABC) Waters Programme to transform the country’s network of utilitarian drains, canals, and reservoirs into vibrant and beautiful streams, rivers, and lakes, seamlessly integrated with their adjacent land developments. This creates new spaces close to water for recreation and community bonding, and will turn Singapore into a vibrant city of gardens and water. Deep sustainable solutions function best when they are networked on a large watershed scale and are socio-culturally integrated. The ABC (Active, Beautiful and Clean) Waters programme is a dynamic and holistic approach to managing water across a city based on the shared involvement of public, private and business sectors. A long-term initiative, over 100 locations has been identified for project implementation in phases by 2030, with 20 projects already completed, bringing people closer to water.
该计划之中的大型旗舰项目 – 碧山宏茂桥公园和加冷河修复展示了令人惊喜的变化，这样一种公园-河道景观的复兴带来了公园周边区域环境的优化、增强了社区的联结。这个项目的设计重点包含转换沿碧山宏茂桥公园边缘行走的加冷河从一条硬生生的混凝土排水渠成为一条拥有自然式河岸结构、并与公园完美融合的内容。与此同时，公园内部的设施也得到了升级改建。在该项目之中，新加坡公用事业局与国家公园委员会的联合合作显示了不同职能范围的政府机构如何协同合作共同面对挑战和机遇。
A major flagship project under the programme, the Kallang River @ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park ABC Waters project demonstrates the exciting changes that such a revitalisation could bring to both the environment and the communities around the park. It involved transforming the Kallang River that ran in a concrete canal along the edge of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park into a naturalised river that is seamlessly integrated within the park. Facilities in the park were also upgraded as part of the project. A joint collaboration between PUB and National Parks Board (NParks), it illustrates how government agencies with different disciplines (for example, parks and water) can work together to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of them.
The new proposal for Bishan Park combines design with function. A 2.7 km long straight concrete drainage channel has been restored into a sinuous, natural river 3.2 km long, that meanders through the park. Sixty-two hectares of park space has been tastefully redesigned to accommodate the dynamic process of a river system which includes fluctuating water levels, while providing maximum benefit for park users. The river banks will be stabilized using bioengineering technology and the entire circulation system of the park will be improved. A new boulevard flows in parallel to the river, and is generously broad to handle the large volume of walkers, bikers and skaters which can be expected. Access into the city is made logical and practical, facilitating connections to public transport and local businesses. A water playground will be a safe place for children (and adults) to take off their shoes and abandon their senses to the delights of water, particularly appealing in a hot climate. One of the existing ponds will be transformed into a cleansing biotope which will clean stormwater run-off and river water. A new café area will help activate the park and support events. Plenty of open green spaces complement the natural wonder of an ecologically restored river in the heartlands of the city. This is a place to take your shoes off, and get closer to water and nature!
Soil bioengineering techniques were applied at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park for river embankment stabilisation. This refers to the combination of civil engineering design principles with plants and natural materials, such as rocks, which control erosion and slow-down the flow of water. Unlike other technologies in which plants play an aesthetic role, plants have an important structural component in soil bioengineering—their roots help stabilize the riverbanks. As plants and natural materials are used, soil bioengineering structures are also characterised by their ability to evolve and adapt to their environment and constantly self-repair and grow. They are therefore significantly more cost-efficient to install and much more sustainable and economically viable to maintain than hard, concrete structures in the long term.
Ecology has been another key priority from the get-go of the design process, especially since the geographical context of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park has endowed it with a fantastic potential for biodiversity. The naturalised river teems with life, as the use of soil bioengineering techniques has created a huge variety of microhabitats, which not only increase biodiversity but also ensure the resilience of the species within the park, thus ensuring their long-term ability to survive. The ecology of the site has been monitored throughout the construction process and it is estimated that biodiversity has increased by 30 percent with the completion of the project.
In 2009, a test bed was constructed, testing about 10 different soil bioengineering techniques and a wide variety of native plant species along a length of 60 metres at one of the side drains in the park. This test bed was used to optimise the construction methods and refine the selection of appropriate techniques and plants. Seven of these techniques were then selected for use along the main river.
This is the first river naturalisation project in the tropics to incorporate soil bioengineering techniques to stabilise the riverbanks, protect them from erosion, and provide habitats for the flora and fauna, and it will serve to be a vital reference source for future projects in the region.
A hydraulic model of the planned river was also used to examine and understand the dynamics of the river, and explore the possible variations of river design. This facilitated the identification of key locations where the velocity of water is higher and a higher degree of erosion control is needed, so designers could allocate more robust plant species to these areas and apply softer plantings of lower density where there are larger areas of gently sloping banks.
In dry weather, these gentle riverbanks provide generous open spaces for recreational activities, such as kite flying, running, and picnicking. In a heavy downpour, however, the park land that is next to the river doubles up as a conveyance channel, carrying the water downstream. The alignment of the newly created river channel also integrated meander bends and varying widths to create diverse flow patterns, which are characteristic of natural river systems and create ecologically valuable, natural, and diverse habitats for increase of biodiversity. Learning from nature’s gracious ways of adapting spaces for multiple functions is undoubtedly one of the keys to the effective design of open spaces within an urban context.
In addition, the park presented an opportunity for the installation of the first cleansing biotope in Singapore, which offers effective water treatment while maintaining a natural and beautiful environment. Cleansing biotopes are natural cleansing systems that consist of carefully selected plants that help cleanse the water by filtering pollutants and absorbing nutrients. Located upstream in the park, the cleansing biotope helps maintain the water quality of the ponds without the use of chemicals. The new water playground at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is supplied by cleansed pond water that has been filtered through the cleansing biotope as well as an ultraviolet (UV) treatment.
Without the willingness to test, improve, and adapt new knowledge, one would not be able to stride boldly towards a vision—of a city park that can function simultaneously as an ecological, hydrological, and recreational infrastructure; of conveying water from an urban catchment; of creating a space in the heart of urbanity where man can observe, preserve, and nurture wildlife. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that this project will change the lives of Singaporeans. Childhoods will be marked with weekends of wadding wet feet. Environmentalists will speak about school excursions to the park in their earlier years. But the Kallang River @ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park ABC Waters project shall, above all, be remembered as a project that stretches our imaginations towards the reality of a smart, beautiful, and liveable city.
Benefit to Other Cities
Cities have always been seen as the opposite of nature whereas nowadays we have to find a way to integrate nature and cities. Cities have to become more resilient, the climate change with higher risk of flood events and drought periods will affect cities extremely in near future. ABC Waters Programme that works with decentralized integration is perfect for the adaption to the future challenges.
公园与河流的动态互动赋予了碧山宏茂桥公园新的独特身份，它将成为新加坡首个展示项目，并为国家以外区域河流的修复项目提供有益的借鉴。在全球性水资源稀缺的大背景下，碧山公园能够成为ABC水计划之中一个关键的教育案例。公园意在吸引当地民众并培养对于河流的公共性主人意识，这一点对于流域性水资源保护计划的深入人心、扎根落地及其重要。取代距离感和恐惧心理，碧山宏茂桥公园将水重新带回人们身边，这里是他们自己的场地、自己的公园、自己的河流 – 可以享受并值得关爱的宝贵资源！
The dynamic interplay of park and river will give Bishan Park a new unique identity but even more, it will be a first demonstration project in Singapore and will give hope for healthy rivers far beyond the island state. Within a global context of water scarcity, Bishan Park is a key educational tool for the ABC programme. The park seeks to engage local people and foster a sense of communal ownership of the river. This is vital for a ground roots acceptance of the watershed based water resource protection programme. Instead of distance and fear, Bishan Park brings water back to the people; it is their place, their park, their river – something to enjoy and worth taking care of.