'Supertrees' in the heartland

Miniature "supertree" structures in Tampines, similar to those in Gardens by the Bay in Marina Bay, have drawn curious stares from residents and quizzical online comments.

A photo of the mini-supertrees was posted on Tuesday by blogger Lee Kin Mun, popularly known as Mr Brown, and attracted netizens' attention.

When contacted by my paper on Wednesday, the Tampines Town Council said that designs for the mini-supertree structures were submitted to the council in 2010, through a design competition with the Singapore Institute of Architects.

Construction began in January and the first mini-supertree structure was completed in March.

The structures are located in four locations in one precinct of Tampines, such as along Tampines Avenue 5. Team Design Architects, the architecture firm behind the designs, had been involved in projects such as The Sail @ Marina Bay.

A town-council spokesman said the structures are "part of a Neighbourhood Renewal Programme where...a majority of the residents living in the precinct supported it".

She added that many residents were "happy (with) the development of the site".

Web developer and Tampines resident Ng Cheng Kiang, 39, thought the town council might have wanted "to bring a slice of Singapore's latest attraction to the heartland", referring to supertrees in Gardens by the Bay, which opened on June 29.

Asked if there were copyright-infringement issues with the mini-supertrees, Mr Bryan Tan, of Keystone Law Corp, did not think there were any, "as each structure has its own unique features".

Still, the structures have their detractors. One netizen said on Mr Brown's blog that the town council should "just plant real trees" instead.

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