In a nation known as the Garden City, one particular garden is defying expectations – and gravity.

Singapore, renowned for being one of the world’s greatest cities, is perhaps one of the greenest too. The award-winning Gardens by the Bay, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, are prime examples.

But one of its best-known is a field of green that stretches not across the city, but towards the sky.

It’s the Vertical Garden of Ocean Financial Centre. Its status as an architectural marvel was confirmed when Guinness World Records awarded it the World’s Largest Vertical Garden in 2013.

Situated at the intersection of the Raffles Place and Marina Bay business precincts, the gravity-defying garden soars skywards at about 19m, and stretches sideways at about 110m. It occupies over 2,125 sqm, roughly the size of eight tennis courts. Passing observers have been known to stop in their tracks to admire this impressive piece of art.

It’s easy to see how the Vertical Garden could be seen as a work of art — on its three facades are three distinct maps of Singapore, Southeast Asia and the world, “drawn” with close to 57,000 potted plants that create a stunning visual effect similar to a pixelated painting.

The maps were designed to represent Singapore as a “vibrant, world-class cosmopolitan city”, the garden’s design team said. The designers used protruding plants of different sizes to simulate mountain ranges and ocean waves, creating a 3D effect.

But to see the Vertical Garden as only a work of art wouldn’t do justice to the amazing feat of engineering and technology of its construction.

For starters, the plants are placed in durable plastic pots designed with a proprietary “Lift, Tilt, Lock” mechanism. To ensure fire safety, these pots also have a Class 0, non-combustible fire rating. Then, there’s the 2-in-1, automatic drip nozzle irrigation and fertilisation combined system, which is spread over 38 irrigation zones for efficient and flexible maintenance control.

If you’re still not impressed, consider this: besides the Vertical Garden, Ocean Financial Centre is also one of the greenest buildings in Singapore. It was the first high-rise office development in Southeast Asia to achieve the highest LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council, and also the Green Mark Platinum Award from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.

Vertical gardens help improve the environment by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air – which reduces the area’s carbon footprint and heat absorption. Outdoors, this can result in cooling surface temperatures by up to 12 degrees Celsius, and it also lowers energy needed to cool indoor spaces.

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Besides helping to lower energy use, these green structures can improve moods and the health of employees too. Tenants at the Ocean Financial Centre, for example, have noticed an increase in their overall well-being, as they benefit from features such as better air quality.

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