Yan mentioned the opening of a new bridge over at Marina Bay this weekend, the Double Helix Bridge Singapore. After reading through flattering previews at various local news sites, we decided to head there ourselves. Photos within.
Singapore’s new trophy is built beside the Singapore Flyer at Marina Bay. The 280 meter bridge joins the F1 seating gallery to the upcoming Marina Bay Sands resort. During the inauguration on Saturday, the bridge was renamed the Helix Bridge.
At first glance, the bridge seemed like quite the spectacle. The modern architecture compliments the other metallic structures at the Marina Bay area.
The Singapore Government, claims that the Helix Bridge marks the first of its kind, despite the existence of an identically named Helix Bridge in London and the Amgen Double Helix Bridge in Seattle.
Passing under the blue glass shelter though, I couldn’t help but feel reminiscent of Shibuya’s Mark City. In daylight, the rich blues reflecting through the glass was quite a beautiful sight.
Only alternate stretches of the bridge is sheltered. Marina Bay Sands expects that its target audience will be driving into the resort, so the rest of the public can get drenched during the frequent tropical rain for all they care.
Despite the crowds, it didn’t take us more than 5 minutes to reach the end of the bridge. Though the bridge stretched 280 meters, a third of it was closed off due to the ongoing construction of the Art Science Museum.
One of the online news articles announced the opening of the Youth Olympic Park by the bridge. The press release touted it as a “Green Sanctuary” so we were looking forward to visiting this place. Yan and I saw this bunch of bushes by the front of the bridge earlier. We didn’t expect that it was actually the park.
The Youth Olympic Park was built to commemorate Singapore’s successful bid to host the first Youth Olympic games. It was a 10×10 meter patch of roadside shrubs. I’m not being sarcastic here, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore describes the park in their own words as a “landscape master plan drawn up by URA of shrub planting”.
Random art projects by children were displayed here. The games will be held later in August this year at the adjacent Floating Platform.
Today was the official opening of the Olympic shrubbery so they invited some students to perform at the staircase to the bridge. I took some videos of the obstruction. I will upload them soon enough.
Yan and I headed for dinner before returning again for a night time experience.
What bothered me most was that the Helix Bridge served absolutely no purpose. The new bridge was built parallel to Bayfront Bridge (which is a vehicle bridge) and exactly along the Benjamin Sheares Bridge (the pedestrian alternative). Exits to both the Helix and the Benjamin Sheares lead to the exact same spot. In fact, many pedestrians ended up taking the Benjamin Sheares instead. Since unlike the Helix, you didn’t have to climb any stairs to get onto it.
The media boasts that once the rest of the resort is completed in June, the combination of the Helix, the circumference of Marina Bay Sands and a return on the Benjamin Sheares will form a 3.5 kilometer loop around the whole bay.
From far, we could see the bridge lighted up nicely. The bridge colors cycled between saturated blue, white, purple, orange and green. It was quite a pretty sight but it would had been nicer if the lights were in less gaudy colors. The lights weren’t particularly bright, the reason we would find out later.
It turns out that despite costing about $83 million dollars to built, the bridge wasn’t really lighted per say. Instead, portable stage lights were placed at intervals along the bridge. These projected the colors onto the roof of the bridge. It’s nice that the Land Transport Authority trusts that no one would make away with the lights but I can foresee that uncontrolled children will be leaving pedestrians in darkness for many nights to come.
The bridge did offer a nice view of the city skyline and the dark waters of the Singapore river. Perhaps I would had enjoyed the outing more if the temperature wasn’t a ridiculous 33 degrees. We left Marina Bay drenched in sweat, wishing that Singapore had built something more useful, like an air-conditioned travelator bridge. But that wouldn’t be a “world’s first” would it?