Improve Botanic Gardens with clever landscaping, fewer carparks

Recently, I visited the Botanic Gardens' new Learning Forest.

While I enjoyed my walk there and take pride in the Gardens' Unesco World Heritage Site accolade,there are three areas which I believe can be improved.

First, there is a new carpark right at the Learning Forest, while not far away, at the Tyersall Gate, there is a big coach-parking area.

I was there on a weekday, and saw that there were only four coaches parked there.

There are already six other carparks, big and small, on the fringes of the Gardens. Singapore is on a drive towards becoming a car-lite nation, so why do we need so many carparks in the area?

The Gardens is well served by MRT stations, so it is already very accessible to the public.

Also, the current carpark at the Nassim Gate is underutilised.

To cater for peak periods, this carpark could be expanded to accommodate more coaches and cars, so there is no need for the new carpark and coach park at the Learning Forest and Tyersall Gate.

Perhaps we can explore levying a higher fee for coach parking at the Gardens to encourage coaches to park somewhere else, and return to pick up passengers at the Gardens only at an appointed time.

Second, to further enhance the "rainforest within a city" experience, the authorities can consider shielding more tall buildings nearby from view.

They have done a pretty good job in the Tanglin and Central cores of the Gardens, but in the Bukit Timah core, a few high condominium units and apartments are still visible at the Eco Lake area.

With clever landscaping and foliage, I am sure the view can be further improved.

Third, the traffic noise at the Gardens can be reduced. Granted, the Gardens is right in the city, but with technology, the noise level can be reduced.

Only the Holland Road side poses a problem. Perhaps a sound barrier near the Tanglin Gate, sandwiched by creepers or tall hedges, can do the trick. Or perhaps a small waterfall can be built to drown out the traffic noise.

Tan Chin Hwee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Improve Botanic Gardens with clever landscaping, fewer carparks'. Print Edition | Subscribe