Amidst new challenges we face during this coronavirus outbreak, many people are reflecting on personal well being and public health. As this latest viral infection spreads around the world, Singaporeans too, have modified their daily lives and activities across the city, choosing to stay home rather than travel. Home is normally where we feel safe, secure and healthy. But in the light of new contagions, how healthy is our human habitat, the city and urban areas? It is opportune to also consider the health of city environments not just for humans but flora and fauna too.
Clean water and fresh air are basic and fundamental to life. In the 21st century however, we are beginning to realize there are many other factors and environmental attributes that our urban landscape can and should provide. These are combined in the concept of “green infrastructure”; natural areas, coastlines, water courses, parklands and utility corridors that can contribute and combine many different and beneficial functions. The outdoor environment of Berlayer Creek on Singapore’s southern coastline promises not just fresh air, sunshine and sea breezes, but natural and ecological attributes as well. In a rejuvenating contrast to crowded commuting, city office work and to our ever present diet of social media. From waterways, drainage services, varied naturalized habitat and eco-system types and coastal protection, to recreation, health and educational resources, this linear reserve connects multiple surrounding green remnants and open spaces, offering plenty for extensive exercise and keen eyed exploration and discovery.
We made a personal re-visit to the Labrador Coastal and Nature Walk to review this naturalised corridor close to Singapore’s CBD. This piece of ‘green infrastructure’ delivers many pleasant surprises. In the nine years since completion, the trees and vegetation have grown fuller and matured, spreading their canopies to enclose and shade the walkways. The tidal creek habitat is alive with more wildlife species where they are better connected to surrounding native reserves of Kent Ridge, Labrador Park coastal forest and Keppel Bay’s marine environment of different sources and habitat values. Water Monitor lizards, Mud Skippers, Kingfishers, Water Hens and Orioles all inhabit this particular marginal eco-system. The boardwalk, bridge and observation hides have now become an embedded part of this estuarine landscape, with the shifting and changing character of its tidal dynamics. We feel both grateful and proud in seeing these maturing characteristics of this project delivering a simple yet sustainable and resilient coastal environment for a decade. Joggers, naturalists, families with their kids and morning walkers have all taken to Labrador’s Boardwalk as have its natural inhabitants. Nurturing health and well being, realizing Singapore’s growing “city in nature” aspirations.
Article written by: Simon Morrison and KL Tay, ICN Design
Project work: KL Tay leading the landscape, ICN Design
Graphics and pictures: ICN Design and Simon Morrison