The Cityscape of Singapore

Welcome to the Vorsprung City

Autonomous taxis, garden hotels and solar-powered trees – a visit to Singapore
is the closest thing you can get to experiencing the future

Arriving in Singapore feels a little bit like entering a future dimension. Yes, it’s a modern city but it’s clean! And green! And some of the architecture is so extraordinary and weird that it wouldn’t look out of place on a moon base. In many ways, it’s the Vorsprung City.

And Singapore prides itself on this futuristic reputation. It’s already three years into its ‘smart nation’ initiative – a programme that is transforming this city-state into a place where advanced technology and sustainability are the norm. One part of this initiative is Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), and as I drive along Singapore’s highways and enter car parks in the Audi A3 Saloon, my ERP cash card beeps reassuringly, letting me know that all taxes and charges are being taken care of automatically.

Singapore at night

The A3 Saloon on the Singapore roads

Singapore by day

Singapore is very forward-thinking when it comes to mobility, even dedicating an entire area of the city to autonomous vehicle testing. And it’s in this test area that global technology firm Delphi is working on its autonomous Audi SQ5 taxi.

Greenery is also very important in the Vorsprung City – trees and plants are everywhere. At the four-star Parkroyal On Pickering Hotel, lush greenery overflows from the balconies that curve around the building. As well as a pleasant garden for hotel guests to enjoy, these balconies also contribute to cleaner air, as well as hiding all sorts of other benefits, such as rainwater collection and solar panels.

Singpore's Gardens By The Bay foliage

The Parkroyal On Pickering Hotel

Singapore's iconic Supertrees

It’s a concept that’s been taken even further at the Gardens By The Bay. I park up the 1.0-litre A3 – perfect for city driving – and head inside to explore this modern take on a public garden. It is spread over 101 hectares and is home to more than a million plants, although the Supertrees are the main attraction. These awesome steel structures are covered in wildlife and have been fitted with solar cells that collect enough energy to light the trees at night. And, just like real trees, they also provide some welcome shade – this British girl is not used to the strong sunshine that Singapore boasts almost all year round.

The tallest Supertree stands 50m tall, and even includes an exclusive restaurant in its canopy. I can’t think of a more perfect spot from which to survey the city of the future than the top of a man-made, nature-powered tree.

Written by Emma Barlow. Photographs by Paul Calver.


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