Architecture at its best marries nature with innovative design — to not only minimise impact on the environment, but, better yet, enhance our natural surroundings. A joint venture development by Mapletree and Keppel Land, The Reef at King’s Dock is designed with a resolute vision: A commitment to the protection of King’s Dock and the preservation of the thriving marine biodiversity within its waters. A vision made possible together with a specialised team of industry leaders and consultants.
One of the highlights of this waterfront development is a 180m-long floating deck, which is designed to give residents a unique perspective of King’s Dock and allow them to better appreciate its historical role and significance. Additionally, the deck will also house a marine viewing area which will serve as a connection to nature, inspiring residents to care for and appreciate the marine biodiversity found right at their doorstep.
A city beneath the sea
Cradling the picturesque coastline, the marine viewing deck serves as a gateway to the wonders of life beneath the sea. The historical King’s Dock is home to fishes such as butterflyfish, rabbitfish, damselfish and the endangered estuarine seahorse. At least 30 hard coral genera and a plethora of other marine invertebrates were also discovered when environmental consulting firm and marine ecology specialist for The Reef at King’s Dock, DHI Water & Environment (DHI), surveyed the waters recently.
The highest diversity of marine life at King’s Dock occurs along the sea wall of the dock. Hence, the goal was to create a surface that will attract even more coral colonisation.
Associate Professor Peter Todd from the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, and Specialist Advisor to The Reef at King’s Dock, said, “In Singapore’s heavily urbanised coastal environment, it is important to create opportunities for local marine species to establish themselves and thrive.”
Building homes for a thriving ecosystem
The developers of The Reef at King’s Dock collaborated with marine biologists to design the submerged surface of the floating deck that will encourage the settlement of marine flora and fauna and enhance marine biodiversity at King’s Dock. The floating deck acts as a novel habitat by providing a larger surface area for marine lift to encrust onto and proliferate.
Dr Siti Maryam Yaakub, Head of Department, Ecological Habitats and Processes, DHI, said, “Our pontoon wall design creates diverse microhabitats through the inclusion of different-sized nooks and crannies to attract and recruit marine life.”
Professor Todd shared that this submerged concrete surface of the floating deck is expected to attract a range of intertidal organisms as well as soft corals, sponges, algae and numerous other habitat-forming species that will colonise the surface and encourage fishes to visit.
Fostering marine biodiversity
Tapping on the latest innovations in their fields, these pioneering experts have integrated their knowledge of the marine ecosystem and construction technologies to create sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.
Together with DHI and Professor Todd, the engineering design of the floating deck is led by Delta Marine Consultants, an international civil engineering consultant with a focus on coastal infrastructure and maritime engineering.
In the design of the floating deck, Delta Marine Consultants had taken into careful consideration the protection of King’s Dock’s existing structure, as well as the preservation of the marine life in its waters. For example, the main structure of the floating deck will be constructed offsite and then floated into King’s Dock during installation.
Mr Yang Zi Qian, Director of Delta Marine Consultants Singapore, remarked, “Our number one criteria was to ensure that we create a structure that has as low an impact as possible and protects the surroundings during the construction process. Rather than using steel, which is the more commonly used material for floating structures, specially-treated concrete was employed to resemble natural rock and encourage marine life to build new habitats. The concrete floating deck is among the first of its kind in Singapore.”
Collaborating for sustainable innovation
The symbiotic efforts of marine biologists, marine engineers and architects have resulted in a floating deck that goes beyond an architectural marvel, but will also be a catalyst for building awareness of marine biodiversity.
Dr Yaakub said, “Working on The Reef at King’s Dock is meaningful to us as we get to play a pivotal role in the conservation and continued success of marine life in Keppel Bay.”
Mr Yang added, “It was a fulfilling experience to welcome everyone’s involvement as a team, to not only look at the impact on the environment, but actually come up with solutions that can enhance the habitat of these marine creatures. Today, we live in a society that yearns for a sustainable way to live with nature. There is no better way to do so than to live on a manmade structure without disrupting natural inhabitants, and to possess the opportunity to appreciate nature, protect our coastline, and ensure we have this beautiful environment to enjoy for a long time to come.”