In Singapore Housing Crises are a Thing of the Past

Singapore lacks land and this causes interesting land use problems. In the city state they ran into issues around housing their citizens ranging from land to cost. Instead of letting “market forces” dictate their housing plan (like in Toronto) the politicians of Singapore decided to act. They built housing and funded even more to ensure that in Singapore everyone will be able to afford a home.

Singapore had a severe housing shortage decades ago. But it developed one of the world’s best public housing programs, which has also allowed a huge number of its citizens to buy their own homes.

The Hanging Gardens of Singapore

The Hanging Gardens of Ancient Babylon was known for it’s amazing vertical garden and to this day it’s not clear how the gardens functioned (or how it was built). That hasn’t stopped enterprising architects in Singapore from creating a modern version of the hanging gardens in skyscraper form!

Designed by WOHA, the block-long “hotel and office in a garden” sits on a narrow plot that opens onto Singapore’s central business core and is situated across from a verdant parkland and near the riverbank. Slab-like towers, which echo those rising in downtown just in the distance, are suspended above a green zone of tangled flora and palm trees that thrive in the tropical climate. The vegetation is rooted to curved terraces that are themselves fixed to the towers’ glass facades. “The project is a study of how we can not only conserve our greenery in a built-up high-rise city centre but multiply it in a manner that is architecturally striking, integrated and sustainable,” the architects say.

Read more here.

Green Roofs Assist in Flood Prevention

Yesterday Toronto got more rain in two hours than it normally does in a month which meant some serious flooding happened. This got me thinking of a program that Toronto (alleged crackhead) Mayor (busted for DUI) Rob (loves pollution) Ford (reads while driving) cancelled. The cancelled program promoted green roofs to help with flood control while lessening wear on existing infrastructure.

So the ineptitude of the current Toronto mayor got me thinking of how things could have been different with forethought of climate change. It’s worth noting that Rob Ford spent the flood idling in his SUV:

I gathered some example of other cities and areas that are using green roofs (and similar) to curb their flooding problems.

In Singapore they have combined recreation with flood prevention:

The barrage is part of a comprehensive system of flood control to decrease flooding in the low-lying areas in the busy quarters of the city. During the heavy rains, a series of nine crest gates activate to release excess storm water into the sea when the tide is low. When high tide comes in, giant pumps drain excess storm water at at a rate of one Olympic-size swimming pool per minute.

In New York they are looking into a variety of solutions, which we looked at before.

In Rotterdam, the city’s green roof initiative has proven to be effective in flood alleviation.

Although large areas of green roofs have many benefits for cities, such as reducing air pollution and helping to combat the heat island effect, Rotterdam’s priority was for water retention, since the city has a shortage of areas where water can be stored following heavy rainfall. Water management has always been a major concern in the Netherlands, since approximately 60% of the country lies below sea level. The analysis of the potential of green roofs in Rotterdam that preceded the introduction of the subsidies focused heavily on their capacity for water storage in order to reduce peak water discharge following a rain storm and help prevent flooding.

Over in the UK, the Green Roof Centre has quite a lot of information on how green roofs can help flood management:

Once established a green roof can significantly reduce both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof compared to a conventional roof. Green roofs store rainwater in the plants and substrate and release water back into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.

The amount of water that is stored on a green roof, and then evapotranspired into the atmosphere, is dependent on the depth and type of growing medium, type of drainage layer, vegetation used and regional weather. The FLL Guidelines should be followed to ensure that actual runoff will be in accordance with calculated runoff.

A green roof can easily be designed to prevent runoff from all rainfall events of up to 5 mm and as part of a SuDS strategy, should reduce the volume of surface or underground attenuation required at the site boundary. In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up (Green roofs benefits and cost implications, Livingroofs.org In association with ecologyconsultancy, March 2004). The difference is due to a combination of more winter rainfall and less evapotranspiration by the plants because growth is not as vigorous during the winter months.

Edit:
I like this tweet from Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmat as a good conclusion to this post:

Singapore Opens Vertical Farm

Sky Green has opened the world’s first vertical faem in Singapore and it’s well beyond a proof of concept. The functioning farm produces one ton of food every other day!

This new farm will hopefully encourage more urban vertical farming to increase local food consumption while cutting down on expensive food transportation.

The farm itself is made up of 120 aluminum towers that stretch thirty feet tall. Looking like giant greenhouses, the rows of plants produce about a half ton of veggies per day. Only three kinds of vegetables are grown there, but locals hope to expand the farm to include other varieties. The farm is currently seeking investors to help build 300 additional towers, which would produce two tons of vegetables per day. Although the $21 million dollar price tag is hefty, it could mean agricultural independence for the area.

Read more.

Singapore’s Billion Dollar Green Plan

Singapore has announced their ambitious plan to make the republic green. It seems like their ultimate goal is to have a sustainable lifestyle and economy in order to have an edge over other places – good for them!

If successful, it will make energy usage here more efficient, reduce pollution and expand the nation’s green spaces – even as the demand for resources rises along with economic growth.

The report of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development (IMCSD) – co-authored by five different ministries – also pledges to advance Singapore’s ambition to be a clean technology and urban environmental solutions hub.

This sector is set to add an estimated $3.4 billion to economic output and create 18,000 ‘green collar’ jobs by 2015.

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