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Singapore’s Mandai Project combines nature and technology

Singapore’s Mandai Project combines nature and technology
September 5, 2019

Themed environment consultancy Pico Play has shared details of their role in the development of Singapore’s Mandai Project - an ambitious and creative five-year project which aims to create a unique nature and wildlife destination.

First announced by Mandai Park Holdings, the parent company of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, in June 2016, the project’s main focus is to enhance Singapore’s three main wildlife attractions - Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari - with two complementary cousins, a new Bird Park (absorbing the existing Jurong Bird Park) and Rainforest Park, creating a 126 hectare mega-attraction by 2023.

Plans also included the development of an indoor nature-themed education centre, a 400 room hotel as well as reimagined public spaces.

The project not only remains on schedule but is promising to set a new benchmark in wildlife attractions.

The new Bird Park is scheduled to open in 2020 and will house one of the world’s largest collections of birds in nine large immersive aviaries with different landscapes from around the world, including wetlands, bamboo forests and rainforests. Visitors will be treated to free-flying birds displaying natural behaviours in a setting designed to replicate their native habitats. The Rainforest Park is also on schedule and will open in 2022.

However, it is the re-imagining of the existing attractions that is promising to have the biggest impact on visitors.

Mike Barclay, Group Chief Executive of MPH at the time of the launch, explained “our vision is to create an integrated nature and wildlife destination, nestled within our bustling city for all Singaporeans and tourists to enjoy.

“Generations of Singaporeans have grown up with Jurong Bird Park and the wildlife parks in Mandai. This project provides an opportunity for renewal, and to deepen our collective affinity with the nature and wildlife of our region.”

With this in mind, MPH were eager that the project not only introduced the two new parks but re-imagined three specific areas of the existing precinct - the main arrival plaza, the Penguin enclosure, as well as the area leading to the entrance of the new Bird Park.

MPH engaged Pico Play due to their experience with similar projects and impressive track record in engaging people, creating experiences and activating brands. Pico’s projects have included Universal Studios Singapore, Adventure Cove Water Park, S.E.A. Aquarium and the highly regarded Shanghai Disneyland Resort.

The company had also designed and managed the development of the Singapore River Safari between 2010 and 2013.

Darren McLean, Pico Play’s Project Director for the Mandai Project, commented “we were conscious of MPH’s brief to let nature be the Art Director.”

To achieve this, Pico’s Australian team of attraction design specialists used innovative techniques such as 3D scanning, construction 3D modelling software, and ground-breaking material technology. This saw the Pico team visit and photograph specific sites in South East Asia to inspire the geology, waterfalls and fauna that shaped their designs. Pico then created a 1:25 scale clay model in its Singapore workshop and used a 3D scanner to create a highly accurate 3D computer model. Pico 3D designers based on the Gold Coast design studio were then able to create the 3D construction drawings that perfectly emulated the natural form of the rockwork.

McLean advised “the 3D files are then exported from Pico Play Australia as shop drawings for fabrication in our Malaysian Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) fabrication facility, where we utilise the low cost of materials and labour to give our client the best product for the best price.”

Pico have also been working with Rickard Engineering, based in Sydney, to develop a new high-strength composite GRC material that can reduce the amount of steel framework and installation time required on the construction site.

Charles Rickard, the founder of Rickard Engineering believes GRC to be the key ingredient in Pico’s involvement in the Mandai Project. Regarded as Australia’s leading expert in GRC, Rickard’s company specialise in offering engineering design services in all facets of façade, diagnostic structural and civil works. The practice is renowned for its expertise in the design of building facades, in particular for curtain wall construction and the design of GRC.

Rickard explained “we have the in-house mathematical skills to analyse highly complex structures.

“We are assisted in this through our use of regularly updated computer software with programs such as BIM platforms, 3D CAD and Finite Element software. These were absolutely key in developing a solution for realizing Pico’s exciting and creative visions for their part in the Mandai Project.”

McLean sees Rickard’s expertise, combined with Pico’s innovative vision to recreating the 3D artificial rockwork, as unique, adding “we have conducted in-house testing to develop a GRC panel design that will harness the inherent strength of GRC.

“The panel design will require less steel to support it, while still being an incredibly accurate recreation of the natural environment.”

When completed, the 126 hectare eco-tourism hub is expected to attract more than 10 million visitors each year, as well as generate a significant number of jobs in conservation research, tourism and hospitality.

Currently, the Jurong Bird Park and the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari attract about 4.6 million visitors each year.

Click here to contact Pico Play via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.

Pico Play's work on the Mandai Project was a feature in Australasian Leisure Management issue 132.

Images: Artists impressions of the Mandai Cavern Waterfall (top) and the seedpod shaped treehouses that will be part of the Mandai Project (below). Courtesy of Mandai Park Holdings.

Related Articles

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17th June 2019 - Jewel Changi Airport opens new attractions and Changi Experience Studio

23rd May 2019 - Designs revealed for treetop accommodation at nature-based Singapore Zoo resort

1st May 2019 - New exhibit at Singapore Zoo features graceful predator

19th April 2019 - Jewel Changi Airport leisure precinct opens in Singapore

2nd July 2018 - New ethnobotany garden opens at Singapore Botanic Gardens

20th February 2018 - Northern Territory Government looks for investment in new waterpark

3rd November 2017 - Pico forms new Imaginators company to create engaging experiences

16th October 2017 - Eco-friendly Banyan Tree resort to open in Singapore’s Mandai wildlife precinct

22nd June 2017 - Gumbuya Park to undergo $50 million redevelopment

7th February 2017 - Construction begins on Singapore’s Mandai Park heritage and nature precinct

27th June 2016 - Singapore’s former Rail Corridor to become a linear park

4th August 2014 - Singapore River Safari launches new cruise attraction

14th March 2014 - Singapore River Safari welcomes 1.1 million guests since April 2013 opening

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