Research studies

Park Connectors as a recreational strategy towards a transformation into a city in a garden Case study : Singapore as a biophilic city in a garden

Les connecteurs de parc comme stratégie récréative vers une transformation en ville dans un jardin Étude de cas : Singapour en tant que ville biophilique dans un jardin


Prepared by the researcher  

  • Nora Mohamed Rehan 1, Ghada Mohammad Hussein 2
  • Associate Professor, Head of Architecture Department, Ahram Canadian University, – Cairo, Egypt
  • Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of Urban and Territorial Planning : Sixteenth Issue – June 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN (Online) 2698-6159
ISSN   (Print)  2699-2604 
Journal of Urban and Territorial Planning

:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link


Most of our cities have sustained rapid economic and urban growth. Few trends in the twenty-first century have matched rapid urbanization’s economic, environmental, and social impact. As a result, more attention must be paid to urban scales, with a focus on biophilic cities that are both sustainable and resilient. Biophilic urbanism improves resilience while also providing new perspectives on how natural systems should be integrated into cities. Park connector networks are considered one of the most important approaches of biophilic urbanism to connect parks and open spaces throughout the city. They function both as natural corridors that effectively strengthen biodiversity and as open spaces for people’s everyday lives that help enhance community resilience and social sustainability. Recreational activities such as cycling, skating, jogging, and hiking will be accessible. All residents will benefit from these connections and activities, which will enrich the “city in a garden experience”. At this point, a critical question is raised: can we make the park connector networks multifunctional greenways? This question represents the main research question that the paper will address. From this point of view, this paper emphasizes two critical issues. Firstly, a theoretical study of park connector networks to achieve a biophilic city in a garden. Secondly, analyze and evaluate the park connector networks of the international case study (Singapore as a biophilic city in a garden) to identify the most important criteria of the park connector networks (ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic aspects) to emphasize the direct integration of nature into the city. Finally, it suggests a framework to develop park connector networks to connect parks in El-Sheikh Zayed District, Egypt by applying the framework categories and criteria to create a wide range of ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic benefits to keep the city attractive and livable by bringing nature closer to people.


Cities have numerous issues, including urban sprawl, overcrowding, pollution, and unsuitable living conditions. This paper sheds light on the park connector networks that connect nature and cities to address a variety of urban issues. These park connector networks can help to improve human health and maintain environmental issues such as air pollution, flooding, and groundwater depletion. This paper aims to examine various best practices of one of the world’s most successful international cities (Singapore) using an ecological approach to linking nature and cities (park connector network), which promotes various ecological, social, cultural, and aesthetic benefits.


As people’s lifestyles become increasingly urbanized, they lose daily contact with nature, limiting their access to the wide range of health benefits that come with it. This lack of engagement with nature reduces a variety of health and well-being benefits and discourages positive emotions, attitudes, and behavior toward the environment.


The research methodology is based on theoretical, analytical, and applied studies. The first stage in the methodology adopted for this paper was to identify the concepts of biophilic urbanism, a city in a garden, and park connector networks. This is followed by an analytical study of a biophilic city in a garden (Singapore), which follows a strategy to increase green space in the city by using park connections as green links and recreational corridors between parks.Then applying this framework to the El-Sheikh Zayed District, Egypt. Finally, the paper suggests a framework to create a strategy for park connector networks as one way to expand green space in the city to create a wide range of ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic benefits.


The park connector network is meant to be a multifunctional greenway by achieving a balance between ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic aspects when designing it.


Biophilia is now being applied to urban design, and leaders in this area such as Tim Beatley and Peter Newman have created the field of “biophilic urbanism”. Landscape architecture has sought to bring nature into cities for hundreds of years, especially through works like Design with Nature by Ian McHarg in 1966. The greatest benefits will be derived from implementing biophilic design elements across all scales of cities. This process is based on a direct communication link between humans and nature, and it supports the necessity of including natural processes in the design of built environments [[1]].


Cities are growing quickly because they provide extraordinary social and economic potential. There has been a growth in the evidence supporting the need for people to be more closely connected to nature, along with evidence supporting the need for cities to be more responsive to natural systems. As a result, more and more communities are attempting to incorporate nature into their plans. The utilization of nature as a practical design feature that can be incorporated into urban people’s daily life is something these cities are aiming to do in order to obtain a number of direct and indirect benefits. This novel strategy is known as “biophilic urbanism.” Improved stormwater management lessens the need for air conditioning, decreases urban temperatures, boosts productivity, and enhances health and well-being—all real advantages of biophilic urbanism. Biophilic urbanism was developed as a new method of urban planning that aimed to incorporate nature into cities and have the potential to turn barren urban areas into regenerative spaces.[1,[2]]. The goal of biophilic urbanism is to strengthen the bond between city people and urban nature and maintain nature’s role as a fundamental aspect of city life. [ [3]].


Many biophilic cities are using innovative approaches to link their residents to nature. The Parks Connectors network is considered one of their ways. This park connection network aims to provide everyone with easy access to nature daily. Getting out into nature contributes to healthier bodies, healthier minds, higher self-esteem, and higher confidence. The vision of a city in a garden has been achieved with the development of the park connector network. [[4]] The following part will discuss the integration of the park connector networks, as well as how they contributed to cities’ ecological, social, and environmental sustainability.


The Park Connector Network (PCN) is a network of greenways designed to connect parks and open spaces throughout the city (Tan, 2006). It serves as both natural corridors that help to strengthen biodiversity and ecological resilience, as well as open spaces for people’s daily lives that assist in resilience and social sustainability. [[5]] These park connectors are advantageous to city dwellers because they have recreational, ecological, social, and psychological advantages. The Park Connector Network plays multiple roles in people’s everyday lives, including an ecological network that is essential to animals and biodiversity, as well as a public space for gathering, social interaction, physical activity, leisure, recreation, and even transportation. [[6]] As shown in figure 1, the park connector network transformed from a natural linear structure to an ecological network as well as a recreational and social gathering place


  • These strategies minimise fragmentation, promote the stability of biological communities, and boost biodiversity protection against extinction by enhancing the quality of the urban environment at different scales on a regional level. [[7]].
  • Protects against natural disasters like floods and erosion.
  • Linking public areas, cities centers, and neighborhoods with open and green spaces. Enhances air quality and promotes increased interaction between people and nature.
  • Permits leisure activities in addition to environmental goals.
  • Provide natural scenes, warm and attractive environs, as well as offer informal and social visits as public spaces. They are one of the most significant sources of beauty in urban areas since they are recognised as locations for relaxing, halting, and focusing.

Singapore is a good example of having an integrated approach to greening and recreational strategy with a park connector network of green, and it should be used as a model for other countries to confront global difficulties in metropolitan areas.


After more than 50 years of greening, Singapore is now a biophilic City in a Garden, with an interconnected network of green streetscapes, gardens, parks, nature reserves, and vertical greenery. Singapore has moved away from providing greenery to developing a healthy urban ecology and a stronger relationship with nature. [[8]].


Singapore has experienced rapid economic and urban growth over the past half-century. The built environment has become increasingly dense, and residents must deal with the stress of a rapidly growing big-city existence. In this environment, the National Parks Board attempted to bring nature closer to people to preserve the city’s attractiveness and livability.


One strategy to increase green space in the city is to use park connections as green links and recreational corridors between parks. The Singapore garden-city project (later titled “Singapore, a city in a garden”) was founded on the idea of improving people’s quality of life by integrating plants into public spaces. Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, proposed the creation of a clean and green environment in the 1960s to mitigate the harsh concrete urban environment and improve the city’s quality of life.  [[9]] This marked the beginning of Singapore’s transformation into a “Garden City.” Singapore will be transformed into a “City in a Garden”, a dynamic city surrounded by a lush covering of tropical flora (as shown in figure 2).

Fig.2.The section illustrates the elements of the park connector networks

Source:, 2018.

To achieve this, a green strategy will be refined, a natural heritage reserve will be established, and the community will be engaged. Singapore is made up of several parks and green areas.  [[10]]

Vegetation grows from the ground up to the very tops of buildings, on terraces as well as within homes and offices. This city-state, which was then a developing country, began a challenge to become one of the world’s cleanest and greenest cities.  [[11]] The goal at the beginning of Singapore’s development was to green the island as fast as possible to provide shade and access to green spaces for everyone. The greening strategy eventually developed to include the planting of flowering plants and shrubs to offer color. Parks were linked up by the Park Connector Network, and developers were encouraged to use skyrise vegetation to improve the living environment. In recent years, Parks connector’s network has used biophilic designs in habitat restoration. [[12]]


The park connector network was included in the planning authority’s “Green & Blue Plan,” adopted in 1991. Singapore’s Park Connector Network (PCN) is a network of walking, running, and cycling trails that connect the city’s parks and other green spaces. It is an island-wide network of linear green corridors that connects Singapore’s major parks and wildlife areas. With more than 300 kilometers of trails, the PCN offers a varied range of green recreational activities, improves access to natural spaces around the island for active nature lovers, and improves biological connectivity between natural habitats. The Kallang Park Connector was the first park connector to be built, in 1995. The nine-kilometer park connector connects two regional parks: Bishan Park and Kallang Riverside Park. The Eastern Coastal Loop, a 42-kilometer loop connecting East Coast Park and Changi Beach Park, was completed in December 2007. The PCN had been constructed for 200 kilometers by January 2012. National Parks constructed 300 kilometers of the PCN and the Central Urban Loop in 2015.

Figure No. (3) shows apart from the Park Connector Network (PCN) of Singapore

Source: Singapore Government Agency Website, National Parks Board. Apr 2020.


The Park Connector concept uses linear spaces that are too narrow for other uses to create landscaped pathways and cycling lanes that connect parks and natural areas. Stormwater drainage reserves, as well as the land beneath high railway tracks, are examples of marginal spaces. Typical waterway connectors, such as large drains and canals, are contained within six-meter-wide drainage reserves that include a four-meter-wide running track, a two-meter-wide cycling track, and a two-meter-wide planting strip. A 3.5-meter-wide jogging and cycling track shares space with a 1.5-meter-wide roadside-covered drain on the Roadside Park Connector tracks. The trees in the two-meter-wide planting strip provide shade for these connectors.

The first generation of connectors was simple, tree-lined walkways with benches and bins. Today, fitness equipment, small playgrounds, simple utility service lines, and roadside plants are packed into the narrow spaces beside roadways, especially in adjacent projects.

Figure No. (4) shows corridors and trails of Singapore PCN

Source: Singapore Government Agency Website, National Parks Board. Apr 2020.



Singapore’s transformation into a “city in a garden” will be accomplished by community involvement in the following four park connector network main strategies:

   Extend the natural capital of Singapore. Bring nature to life in gardens and parks. Promote nature in the urban environment. Improve the connection of Singapore’s green spaces. Extend the natural capital of Singapore:

These nature parks provide habitats and serve as buffers for Singapore’s native animals and plants, enabling tourists to partake in outdoor activities. In order to protect nature reserves from the consequences of urbanization, park connecting networks also assist in minimizing interruption to the reserves.  [[13]] Bring nature to life in gardens and parks:

More natural landscapes will be developed in gardens and parks thanks to the park links network. Visitors will be able to enjoy a wider variety of biodiversity close to their homes as well as the wonderful effects of nature on their health and well-being. For instance, a wider variety of planting plans will be used, simulating the appearance and atmosphere of Singapore’s natural forests and bringing tourists closer to the outdoors. [[14]] As part of the park connection network, more therapeutic landscapes are being included into gardens and parks. Water bodies in gardens and parks will be given a naturalized look. Rainfall will be captured and stored in reservoirs, which will function as naturalized lakes, and rivers will be created out of concrete canals. Such natural remedies would promote abundant biodiversity while simultaneously enhancing flood protection for nearby dwellings. Restoring nature into the urban:

When nature is reintroduced back into the built environment, Singaporeans’ daily life will be closer to landscape vegetation. To accomplish this, multi-tiered plants might be placed along the streets to resemble a forest. [[15]] The Nature Ways planting program will increase Singapore’s streets’ resistance to the consequences of urbanization. Skyrise greenery can be implemented with the use of parks connectors. Buildings will be cooled by vertical green walls, green roofs, and rooftop gardens, making them more comfortable places to live and work. Strengthening connectivity between Singapore’s green spaces:

A network of parks will enhance the ecological interactions among green spaces to support a robust natural ecosystem. The multi-tiered structure of the forest will be reflected in the landscaping of gardens, parks, and the edges of streets. As a result, Singapore’s streets will be more pleasant for pedestrians and cooler, and more people will have easier access to nature.  [[16]]


The Park Connector Network offers six ‘loops,’ or series of Park Connectors as follows:

  1. Western Adventure Loop                  Northeastern Riverine Loop
  2. Northern Explorer Loop Eastern Coastal Loop
  3. Central Urban Loop            Southern Ridges Loop

The following part will focus on the Western Adventure Loop as a great place to go on an adventure or go on a tropical safari.

Figure No. (5) Shows Singapore’s Park Connector Loops

Source: Authors from national parks boards-Sunday time’s graphics.

Western adventure loop
Central Urban Loop  


From the lush Choa Chu Kang Park, through the Bukit Panjang Park Connector, Zhenghua Park, Dairy Farm Nature Park, and Bukit Batok Nature Park, you can embark on a more challenging nature walk journey along the Western Adventure Loop. WESTERN ADVENTURE LOOPs GOALS:

  • Creating trails for running, biking, and strolling that connect Singapore’s different parks.
  • Take part in a variety of enjoyable activities.
  • Decreasing waste production and carbon footprints.
  • Allowing individuals to explore outside spaces and ride their bikes or walk farther distances in natural surroundings.
  • Promoting the prosperity of non-human animals in neighborhoods and households by producing a variety of native greens.
Figure No. (6) show the start point, and end point of western loop.

Source: Western adventure loop, national parks, let’s make Singapore our garden, PCN park connector network THE START POINT:

– Choa Chu Kang Park:

Start in Choa Chu Kang Park, lovely parkland amidst the “hardscape” of the neighborhood. There are lots of fruit trees, cafes, and kid-friendly playgrounds.

– Pang Sua Park Connector:

The two butterfly gardens are situated alongside Pang Sua, a picturesque park connecting next to the canal, to educate people about the numerous varieties of butterflies.

– Bukit Panjang Park Connector:

The presence of a wide variety of species, including macaques and birds, is made possible by the abundance of greenery and the close proximity to well-established parks at this park connector.

-Zhenghua Park:

The steep topography of Zhenghua Park is perfect for cyclists and trail runners seeking for a good walk. A portion of the park’s vegetation has been left in its natural state to add to its sense of tranquilly. It is possible to find over 20 different species of forest giants.

-Dairy Farm Nature Park:

Visitors can learn about the changing landscapes of Dairy Farm Nature Park and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve at the Wallace Education Centre, which is located within the park. The Singapore Quarry, located at the park’s southwestern end, provides a calm location with a beautiful outlook.

– Bukit Batok Nature Park:

The park is the perfect location for a relaxing nature walk. A scenic lake was found near the park’s entrance, at the bottom of a towering cliff wall.

– Jurong Lake Park:

Two of the many attractions at Jurong Lake Park are the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. Along the 2.8-kilometer water boardwalk in the park, nature lovers may observe birds, photographers can capture the beauty of the lake, and water sports enthusiasts can partake in a range of activities.[[17]]

Figure No. (7) show the circulation and activities from the start point park to the endpoint park of the western loop.

Source: Western adventure loop, national parks, let’s make Singapore our garden, PCN park connector network

Source: Western adventure loop, national parks, let’s make Singapore our garden, PCN park connector network

From the previous case study and its green strategy, the paper suggested a biophilic framework that consists of four main categories to achieve a biophilic city in a garden through park connector networks:

Fig. (8). Shows four categories (Ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic aspects) to achieve biophilic goals

Source: Authors

Suggested Biophilic Framework
A biophilic city in a garden
New approach

Ecological, Cultural, Social, and Aesthetic Goals

Aesthetic Goals


-Explore the natural parks &enjoy the panoramic views.

– The beautiful views, as well as the lovely flora and wildlife that characterize this loop, will amaze nature lovers and photographers.

5-Winter land – Zayed

 The park connector’s design incorporates beautiful and clean water elements to provide users with a more scenic experience



The greenways will create a green matrix of connected linear park space, increasing public access to Singapore’s parklands. accessible to the public.

Social Goals

 The loop offers a unique sense of adventure that can’t be found anywhere else on the island.

– Outdoor sports and activities such as jogging, cycling, blading, mountain riding, and rock climbing are all possible on the loop.

Farms, horticultural gardens, and spaces for social interaction could all be sites where individuals can actively participate in the building of parks.

-These urban greenways link important parks to population centers.

Cultural Goals

– The utilization of existing recreational facilities. People will come to play an increasingly important part in preserving Singapore’s garden ambiance.



– Singapore’s different parks and other green spaces are connected.





–  Visitors can learn about the changing landscapes of Dairy Farm Nature Park and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve at Wallace Education Centre, which is located within the park.

Ecological Goals

–  Provide nature corridors within urbanized areas to improve and increase biodiversity in the environment.

–  Reducing carbon footprints and waste produced.

–  As the vegetation along the greenways improves, birds and other wildlife will be able to use them to travel from one refuge to the next in search of food and breeding sites.

– It is expected that by connecting major parks with nature reserves, nature will be strengthened throughout the island.

Table No. (1) Shows the balance between the ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic goals

Source: Authors.

This part suggests a framework to develop park connector networks to connect parks in El-Sheikh Zayed District, Egypt by applying the framework categories and criteria to create a wide range of ecological, cultural, social, and aesthetic benefits to keep the city attractive and livable by bringing nature closer to people.



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One of the most important strategies to increase green spaces in the city is to use park connector networks as green links and recreational corridors between parks. The Singapore garden-city project (a city in a garden) was founded on the idea of improving people’s quality of life by integrating plants into public spaces. This strategy will improve the experience of greenway users while also reducing the level of pollution produced by motorized vehicles. Singapore has successfully planned, developed, and implemented Park Connectors, bringing the city-state another step closer to achieving its aim of being a city in a garden. It was a great example of a Greening and Recreational Strategy. It has proven to be successful in catering to social and recreational activities while also raising overall biodiversity levels, and it should be used as a model for other countries to address global concerns in urban areas.


[1] Beatley T. Biophilic cities: integrating nature into urban design and planning. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2010.

[2] Sam Gochman, seeking parks, plazas, and spaces – the Allure of biophilia in cities, terrapin bright green, New York City,2015.

[3] Beatley T. Handbook of biophilic design. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2016.

[4] Tanuwidjaja, G., Park connector network planning in Singapore: Integrating the green in the garden city, The 5th International Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism, the National University of Singapore, Department of Architecture Global Visions:  Risks and Opportunities for the Urban Plane,2011.

[5] Yuen., Park connectors, living large in a small space, urban solution, Issue 2, February 2013.

[6] Ye, Zhang, Measuring the physical profile and use of Park Connector Network in Singapore using deep learning and big data analytics, Conference: IFOU 2018: Reframing Urban, Resilience Implementation: Aligning Sustainability and Resilience, December 2018.

[7] Melissa R. Marselle, Pathways linking biodiversity to human health: A conceptual framework, environment international, volume 150,2021.

[8] Urban Development Authority of Singapore,

[9] Lee, K, Y, From a Third World to the First, The Singapore Story, Singapore, and the Asian Economic Boom, Harpec Collins Publisher,2000.

[10]  Dale, Ole Johan, Urban Planning in Singapore, The Transformation of a City, Oxford University Press,1999.

[11] 26- National Parks Board, Nature Ways.,accessed June 13, 2018.

[12] National Parks Board, Singapore, Annual Report, 2006-2007.

[13] Wong T-C., Yuen B., and Goldblum C. (Eds.), Spatial Planning for a Sustainable Singapore, Springer in Association with the Singapore Institute of Planners, Singapore,2008.

[14] Yuen, B., Singapore Housing: A Strategy for Urban Development and Regeneration, The City Region in a World of Globalization: Urban Strategies for Sustainable Development Conference, in Bergen Norway, 18 – 22 June 2000. Source:

[15] Ref: NG Lang, a city in a garden, World Cities Summit Issue, a Singapore government agency, website 14 Jun 2008.

[16] Liu, Guoyu., & Shu, Honglan., Construction of Garden City in Singapore. Jiangxi Forestry, Science and Technology. 2. 44-46. ,2003.

[17] Western adventure loop, national parks, let’s make Singapore our garden, PCN park connector network.

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