Singapore may be a concrete jungle but that didn’t stop it from being named the Greenest Asian City in the 2011, Economist Intelligence Unit’s Green Cities Index. Despite being land-scarce, and urbanised, the Republic outperformed other Asian cities across eight environmental criteria, including land use, buildings, air quality and environmental governance.

Key to this achievement is local developers’ integration of conservation, and environmental protection into the construction of new condominiums.

Residences such as The Glades at Tanah Merah, a Keppel Land property, have contributed to this outcome. The condominium offers high-ceiling loft apartments, dual-key units and one- to four- bedroom suites and penthouses, set amidst expansive green spaces that create a peaceful resort feel.

A matter of pride to preserve nature—to admire it, to keep it.

Mr Glenn Bontigao and Mr Clive Poh, senior associate and senior horticulturalist at landscape architects Via+ Signature, said they integrated natural features at The Glades at Tanah Merah, such as trees and site contours into the overall property design. As Mr Bontigao puts it: “A matter of pride to preserve nature—to admire it, to keep it.”

Raintrees and waterfalls

To get a sense of the duo’s mission to conserve the greenery in and around the condominium, look no further than the two large raintrees (samanea saman) within the compound. Conserved for their heritage value, aesthetic beauty, and shelter from the sun, the raintrees are distinct for their large umbrella-shaped crowns, and pink and white flowers. But more notably, are how their leaves fold up in the rain. Raintrees can reach heights of 25 metres and live to about 100 years; for the two trees at The Glades at Tanah Merah, they are possibly over 50 years old.

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Conserving the raintrees at The Glades

The process of planting wasn’t easy. In fact, the architect pair faced a 50/50 chance of killing the trees if they tried to uproot and replant them during the condominium’s construction. So the company erected a Tree Protection Zone—barricades that shield the trees—so they would be unaffected by the property’s construction.

Beyond the raintrees, it’s easy to notice that developers of The Glades at Tanah Merah have a core interest in conservation. The condominium’s Rainforest Valley Walk and Forest Trail are both designed to provide residents with green sanctuaries. Therapeutic spa pools are set in a relaxing woodland surrounding. Mr Poh said that for these areas, specific plants have been chosen to encourage biodiversity, like the Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), which attracts butterflies.

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The Glades Spa Pool

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The Glades forest walk

The The Glades at Tanah Merah also provides individual gardening plots to promote horticulture and green conservation among residents. Its clubhouses are also a reflection of the developer’s commitment to environmental protection. The Wellness Clubhouse is surrounded by cascading waterfalls, while the Net-Zero Energy Clubhouse operates with zero carbon footprint—a thoughtful blend of nature and modernity.

A greener future

In Singapore, 30 per cent of a residential plot must be an open space. The Glades at Tanah Merah have been designed to provide 40 per cent green area within the condominium’s grounds.

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The Glades at Tanah Merah
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Part of this is driven by consumer demand: Residents prefer open spaces to not just be paved concrete. That’s why more and more landscape architects like Mr Bontigao, and Mr Poh are introducing biophillic design like green walkways, and private forests into property projects.

Singapore may be a concrete jungle, but if the present is any indication of what’s to come, expect residential homes of the future to be a less concrete, and more jungle.