This Jaw-Dropping Building Complex In Singapore Has 160,000 Plants

Marina One is a residential and office complex with a gorgeous "green heart" of trees and plants.


May 31 2019, Updated 2:52 p.m. ET

The people who work and live at Marina One enjoy lots of perks. There’s a 26,000 square foot gym that boasts an enormous climbing wall and indoor pool. The restaurants range from sushi bars to fine Chinese dining, with quick-service smoothie shops thrown in between. 

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But there’s also the lush greenery in every spare corner, designed to boost air quality and make Marina One a replicable blueprint for eco-friendly architects.

Marina One opened earlier this year in Singapore’s central business district. The LEED Platinum-certified complex includes four high-rise buildings, two for offices and two for residential apartments, with a “green heart” in the center. This heart is packed with trees and bushes, which cascade over the bridges connecting the complex. Altogether, it’s roughly 160,000 plants, representing over 350 different species.

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That much flora provides countless benefits to the people who pass by. It’s not just pretty to look at — although it is, especially with the three-story waterfall in the middle — but beneficial to residents’ mental health. The green heart also filters toxins out of the air, while absorbing heat and rainfall. 

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“It’s engineered,” lead architect Christoph Ingenhoven told The Straits Times. “Soil, sun, shadow, [and] tree height are considered.”

Ingenhoven and his German architecture firm began working on the project seven years ago, envisioning the space as an “international role model for living and working.” Sustainability was a key part of the design, from the hundreds of leafy trees to the energy-saving ventilation systems. Ingenhoven also utilized external solar screening devices and a glazing that minimizes solar radiation into the buildings.

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Marina One connects its residents and workers directly to multiple public transit rail lines and buses and provides bike parking facilities, so they’re less inclined to burn fuel in their cars. But if they do need to drive, there are charging stations on site to nudge people towards EVs rather than gasoline-guzzling models.

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CNBC reports that Facebook and Prudential have moved into Marina One offices since the complex officially opened in January. On the residential side, the complex is courting wealthy tenants with two-bedroom, two-bathroom units listing for $2 million.

Through the $5.1 billion project, Ingenhoven hopes to demonstrate a viable concept for cities with rising populations. The UN estimates that 68 percent of world population will live in urban areas by 2050 and if that’s the case, high-rise buildings that maximize vertical space are slated for a boom. That means creative concepts like the Marina One — which considers both the environment and well-being of its residents — could prove crucial in the coming years.

“It took a lot of work to make it look like it does today,” Ingenhoven told The Straits Times. “But in 20 years, it will come closer to what we had in mind.”

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