What would a country do if it needed more trees but could not wait for nature to take its course? Well, in the absence of a Time Machine that could send it headlong into the future, the answer that Singapore arrived at was man-made trees.

For a country fixated on cleanliness, where it’s common to find an air dryer removing water vapor and gases, and where littering is frowned upon as a serious offence, there’s now a new obsession – giving itself more lungs, albeit artificial. Not that Singapore’s fondness for greenery is new; there are bursts of thick green patches sprinkled all over the city and its roads are lined with lush, gigantic trees, each perfectly pruned. What’s new, however, is the idea of man-made trees.

In typical Singapore style, the government has launched an extremely ambitious project, threw lots of money at it and then proceeded to staunchly defend its decision against any criticism.

Picture this

The best way to describe these so-called trees would be this: imagine eighteen gigantic pillar-like structures, 50 meters high, with concrete and metal for trunks and thick wire-rods for branches, towering into the sky amid long, elevated, serpentine walkways that wind from one tree to another.

These gargantuan solar-powered trees are a part of the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay project which, when completed, will be home to a couple of enormous orchid-shaped green conservatories that will house plants from all over the world. Located on the waterfront right by Marina Bay Sands, the world’s most expensive hotel, which boasts a boat-shaped SkyPark atop its 55 floors, the trees are more than mere structures. One may not think much of them in terms of appearance, since the word tree does not exactly conjure up images of metal and concrete, but few can argue the usefulness, eco-friendliness and frankly, the sheer ingenuity of the structures.

So What Do These Super-Trees Really Do?

For starters they collect rainwater, which in a country like Singapore is important, since it gets more than 2000 mm of rainfall a year. That aside, most of these trees also generate solar-power, which is then used to provide lighting for the green conservatories around it. In this day and age of sustainability and ecological awareness, this project seems to hit the right notes.

The project is an effort to balance some of the country’s carbon footprint and give its people a sense of recreating nature’s balance. The government is especially touchy about the former, more after a recent WWF report named Singapore as having the biggest carbon footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.

Not that the government agrees with the report, but it hopes that such projects will dispel some of those impressions about this future Garden City.

Read more: Need To Know Before Travelling Singapore