In tune with their reputation of being a ‘garden city’, Singapore has come up with an elegant and innovative way to not only meet modern infrastructural needs but also highlight the natural environment. And that is Southern Ridges.
Spanning 10-kilometres, Southern Ridges is a link bridge that connects some of the most popular parks in the southwest of the country. The bridge is a long stretch of green open and recreational spaces where members of the community can easily and respectfully interact with nature. Using Southern Ridges, visitors can go trekking, birdwatching, sightseeing or simply just hang out, whilst moving from park to park.
Southern Ridges is made up of five major hill parks – Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.
Mount Faber Park is a frequent starting point for many trekkers, as a train station is situated right at the foot of the hill. Trekkers can walk along the park’s Marang Trail up towards Mount Faber, whilst listening to sounds produced by cicadas. A number of diverse animals live along Marang Trail, all of which serve as a great companion on your climb up. Atop Mount Faber, there is marvellous view of Sentosa and Keppel Harbour that’s definitely worth the hike.
Abundant with flowers, Telok Blangah Hill Park is a quaint park that’s popular among morning joggers and nearby communities for an exercise session.
Dubbed as the gardening hub of Singapore, HortPark is a gardening showcase that works in collaboration with the local horticulture industry. This garden-focused park is home to over a hundred species of flowers, shrubs and trees and features collections of well-designed floral arrangements made by local gardeners. Abundant with beautiful floral and unique plant species, HortPark provides a scenic trek on an otherwise plain and hilly trail.
Due to its plethora of undisturbed environment, Kent Ridge Park is a popular destination for birdwatchers and eco-tourists. In the whole of Singapore, the park has recorded the largest number of species of dragonflies and birds.
Lastly, Labrador Nature Reserve, unlike the others, has coastal cliffs and rocky shores. The reserve is one of Singapore’s most protected landscapes and is home to a range of diverse living organisms – from exotic birds to rare plants.
Beyond all the hill parks, Southern Ridges also feature a number of gems that further highlight the beauty of nature. Without having to disrupt the natural layout of surrounding plant and animal habitats, the bridge connects locals and visitors to various ecological and biodiverse attractions.
Between Mount Faber and Telok Blangah lies the most architecturally prominent and innovative feature of the Southern Ridges called the Henderson Waves. It is the tallest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, distinctly known for its wave-like structure. The bridge itself is created from sustainable or sustainably sourced materials; such as Balau wood, that was sourced from sustainable farms in East Malaysia, and curved steel. Considered as a true architectural and sustainable masterpiece, visitors can sit among the waves and enjoy a panoramic view of the city, whilst still surrounded by nature.
Another impressive feature of Southern Ridges, among many others, is the Forest Walk – a steel, elevated canopy bridge. A remarkable mix of the metropolitan and the natural environment, the bridge allows for an urban and easily accessible connection to the parks. Visitors walking along the bridge can catch glimpses of colonial-style houses around the neighbourhood, as well as the surrounding rich biodiversity. The spot is also frequented by several exotic birds, such as the Spotted Dove and Pink-necked Green Pigeon among many others
Recipient of the Urban Land Institute’s Global Awards for Excellence in 2010, the Southern Ridges project was undertaken by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority as a way to increase connectivity between the public and nature. Each aspect of the project was designed to fit naturally and blend in seamlessly with the surrounding greenery.
Since its conception in 2002, the project has become a sustainable icon for the country and an exquisite example to the world that ecological sustenance and urbanisation can peacefully coexist.
The project offers an innovative way to connect to nature right in the comfort of the city. A true sight to behold, Singapore’s Southern Ridges is the pinnacle of sustainable urban development.