A Modern-Day Hanging Gardens Of Babylon

The Parkroyal Hotel on Pickering is a contemporary interpretation of Babylonian hanging gardens, via Southeast Asia.

Singapore prides itself on its green-minded policies. With a well-connected public transportation network, robust water collection and treatment infrastructure, and a promise to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% in the next two decades, the island city-state is pioneering sustainable development in Southeast Asia and beyond. There’s more than just tourism sloganeering, it seems, to Singapore’s claim to being a “city in the garden.”


These green ambitions find stunning architectural expression in the solar-powered Parkroyal Hotel on Pickering, a tower complex cut through by a wild patch of tropical forest.

Designed by WOHA, the block-long “hotel and office in a garden” sits on a narrow plot that opens onto Singapore’s central business core and is situated across from a verdant parkland and near the riverbank. Slab-like towers, which echo those rising in downtown just in the distance, are suspended above a green zone of tangled flora and palm trees that thrive in the tropical climate. The vegetation is rooted to curved terraces that are themselves fixed to the towers’ glass facades. “The project is a study of how we can not only conserve our greenery in a built-up high-rise city centre but multiply it in a manner that is architecturally striking, integrated and sustainable,” the architects say.

The entire complex is raised on a wide concrete podium shielded from the street by a row of columns. Sculpted in precast concrete layers resembling chiseled bedrock, it is the geological substratum supporting the gardens and buildings above. The columns shoot up through the base of the podium and resurface at its top. They hoist up the tower blocks, creating a large gap of space that separates the 367 hotel residences from the ground structure.

The podium’s expansive roof garden offers spectacular views onto Singapore’s biologically diverse landscape. Here, swimming pools are fitted into concrete grooves and bird cabanas are cantilevered past the ledge. Dangling overhead are hanging gardens that hug the faces of the hotel towers. The plantings help filter light entering the rooms while also cooling them.

The Parkroyal is a beacon of sustainability in one of the world’s most sustainable cities. It’s also a great example of how green design doesn’t have to sacrifice form to achieve its goals.

About the author

Sammy is a writer, designer, and ice cream maker based in New York. He once lived in China before being an editor at Architizer.