Singapore's water resources system is a strong illustration of the value of an integrated water resources management in urban enviroments. Today, urban water resources planning and environmental engineering are essential partners in the planning of tomorrow's urban environments - and not just as passive projects unnoticed by the public.
In Singapore we can see the specific evolution from the separate development of water catchments and the control of monsoon flooding to the integrated water management strategy as exemplified today in the Marina Barrage. The multi-purpose project boosts Singapore's water supply by creating its first reservoir in the city, helps flood control and enhances the living environment of the city.
Marina Barrage presented many interesting challenges in the development of a project whose impact was designed to far transcend the normal functional aspect of a large public works project.
This paper will present the many potential public uses that were considered in the planning for the final facility. The motivation is that the 3P (people, public and private) sectors play an important part in sustaining water resources. Instead of designing the Marina Barrage as a conventional functional facility accessible only to operational staff, the project breaks new ground in taking an unconventional design approach. The facility was designed as an open facility to engage and inspire the public to care for water. Features for public education, lifestyle attraction, eating experiences, options for families to relax, play areas for children, attractions for overseas visitors, spaces for dedicated conferences and many more were considered. A multi-functional team of interior designers, landscape architects, researchers, art specialists, lighting specialists, environmentalists, etc was assembled and met continually as the design evolved. These evolving goals had to be integrated into the overall functional characteristics of the barrage.
The resulting project is a world-class example of how a project initially conceived for water resources functional purpose can evolve not just into an iconic structure but one whose multi-functional capabilities have attracted huge attention from tourists and the people of Singapore. This is evidenced by more than 250,000 people visiting the facility in its first 6 months of operations, and the many families who spend relaxing time enjoying the various spaces at the Barrage.
The evolution of the Marina Barrage in design and operation can act as a lesson for other cities considering similar large flood control or water supply projects. The success of the Marina Barrage's 3P mission indicates how for a relatively little increase in cost these facilities can play a major role in enhancing urban lifestyle in sustainable cities.
- © IWA Publishing 2009