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A Reservoir in the City

Singapore’s Marina Barrage

Singapore receives 100 inches of rain each year, a huge amount of rain to manage to control flooding and preserve water supply quality. Our solution was an elegant, low-level dam—known as a barrage—that reliably accommodates excess precipitation, provides effective flood control, and enhances water supply and quality. And Marina Barrage is not just an impressive technical achievement. During its design, we considered how the complex’s technical and architectural features could support and enhance the lifestyle and economic development of Singapore’s urban center.

Marina Barrage protects a thriving urban center from flooding, creates a 600-acre freshwater reservoir to augment water supplies, and enhances the waterfront with recreational facilities and a visitor center. 

The 350-meter-long barrage includes nine 30-meter-long hydraulically operated steel crest gates and a massive drainage pumping station that is among the world’s largest of its type. Under normal conditions, the gates stay closed to isolate the reservoir from the ocean. During extreme storm events when the tide is low, the gates work in harmony to release excess flows from the marina. When the tide is high, the pumping station—capable of pumping up to 280 cubic meters per second—goes into action. The barrage and pumping station are also constantly working in harmony to provide stable water levels in a new 240-hectare freshwater reservoir within downtown Singapore, regardless of storm flows and tide levels.

There was more to the design than efficient water management. Because of the project’s natural setting and emphasis on user friendliness, our design team sought a careful balance between form and function. The project includes a 13-megawatt power station and a two-story interactive visitor center complete with a dramatic circular glass theater, all located in a botanical park setting open to the public. The roof of the pumping station, visitor center and power station are covered with turf grass and accessible to the public. Visitors can walk from the park, around the facility, and up two helical ramps to take in dramatic views from the roof and across the barrage. The state-of-the-art visitor center showcases Singapore’s significant environmental accomplishments, offering films, exhibits and even refreshments.

The green roof also features a 70-kilowatt tie-grid solar system that provides supplemental power for lighting and general purposes at the visitor center, control room and common area. Today, It is the largest solar power park of its type in Singapore.

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PUB, Singapore's National Water Board