Keith French on Gardens by the Bay
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What was the inspiration of the project (Gardens by the Bay)?
This is a project about gardens,and about plants, and really it was about showcasing them in the most spectacular way. Our starting point was what is the definition of a garden, and a definition we found, used the word of wonder, magnificence, extraordinary and to try wive that into landscape and topography. The other inspiration was the orchid, the national flower of Singapore, and that was used as of analogous to try structure and inform the layout of the gardens,in terms of the physiology and the way it takes host and then wives its way out.
What was it like working on such a big project with so many collaborators?
It was a project of exceptional collaboration. It’ s been a lot of hard work but it’ s been fun, it’ s been friendships, it’ s been amazing. And working across different cultures, different disciplines, different countries has been amazing.
There are cases in which engineers redirect and reshape a project that the designers provide. To what extend did the team of engineers that worked on Gardens by the Bay project effect the design process?
We all claimed land, so the starting point was understanding the constraints associated with that. So we were working very close with engineers on the actual reclamation process, in terms of understanding the constrains of the topography, the constrains of how even build structures and the various settlement issues associated with that. So from the outside there was a very close working relationship with the engineers. And as the project moved forward going to the details as the structures, such as the bridge, and the pergoles and the super trees, again there was close working relationships, that the design process was its disciplined from the other.
How do the local authorities handle the influence of social media in order to promote a project?
Gardens by the Bay have a Facebook site, and this is an active part of the marketing and branding, but at the same time I think it is still a young form of communication for them, so they are learning from the potential benefits and keen to be on the exposure and form relationships within the world of social media.
Do you think that sometimes the promotion via social media creates wrong impressions of a project? And how easy is it to form an opinion about a project or a place without having experienced that project or place before?
I think it’s good to have opened the bates across all forms of media and communication, but at the same time it’s good to have actually seen the project and experienced it. But I think healthy debate across all medias can only be good and beneficial to everyone.
A lot of people come to Singapore just to visit architecture landmarks like the Gardens by the Bay project. How important is for Singapore to promote contemporary architecture in order to attract visitors?
I think it’s a great opportunity, and they have invested in some great designers and architects across the country, and I suppose that showcases good design, and I think that’s something they are very interested in. Equally I think Singapore is about creating destinations, it’s not only about iconic structures or landmarks, but it is about creating places and destinations. And I think Gardens by the Bay hopefully becomes one of those destinations for Singaporians as well as visitors.
What is the importance of architectural events worldwide? What are the profits for a city holding such kind of major events?
I think it’s fantastic for Singapore to be hosting the WAF, it brings a real focus of architectural world to Singapore, it allows everyone to experience Singapore but it also brings the design community together, and learning from different countries, different cultures, different disciplines can only be good, it’s absolutely fantastic.
Can you provide your personal proposal for ten buildings constructed and visitable worldwide that someone must visit anyway?
Some of my favorite buildings include the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe, the Lloyd’ s building in London by Rogers, the Pompidou Center in Paris; of the historic rates, i love the simplicity of the Georgian terrace,you can see some great streets in London and in Bath, where I come from, where there ‘re fantastic pieces of architecture, i also like some Cathedrals such as York and Bath abbey, and equally some landmark buildings such as the city Opera House and the Conservatories here in Gardens by the Bay.
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Bidisha Sinha & Simon Yu
Sir Peter Cook
Nil Aynali of Emre Arolat Architects
Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos
Country: United Kingdom
Keith French joined Grant Associates in 1997. He has worked on a variety of large-scale landscape and urban design projects, particularly in respect of design development, project coordination, detail design, procurement and implementation. He has a particular interest in combining innovation and creative ecology in landscape architecture. He is currently Project Director for Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
About Grant Associates
Grant Associates is a world-leading British Landscape Architecture consultancy specialising in creative, visionary design of both urban and rural environments, working with some of the world’s leading architects and designers.
Established in 1997 by Andrew Grant, the practice has built up a reputation for innovative, ecologically based design and the ability to shape useful and sustainable landscapes with distinctive contemporary character.
Inspired by the connection between people and nature, Grant Associates fuses nature and technology in imaginative ways to create cutting edge design built around a concern for the social and environmental quality of life.
Grant Associates has experience in all scales and types of ecological and landscape development including strategic landscape planning, master planning, urban design and regeneration and landscapes for housing, education, sport, recreation, visitor attractions and commerce.
Grant Associates is responsible for Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, a new 54-hectare tourist attraction of world significance, leading a top British design team to fulfil the £500m project.
Clients include The National Trust, Urban Splash, Rolls Royce, English Partnerships, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Wessex Water, National Parks Board of Singapore and various public and private organisations across the UK and overseas.
Grant Associates is a Private Limited Company based in Bath, England and is registered with the Landscape Institute. It also has an office of landscape architects and architects in Singapore.