Remember The Faraway Tree at the edge of the Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton? Now, it has sprouted to become a reality of sorts at My Tree House, the world’s first green library for kids.
As the centrepiece of the revamped Children Section within Central Public Library, the Tree House is much more than just a magical green tree for children to marvel at. From the enchanted forest entrance to the refurbished bookshelves with green-themed books and right down to every inch of carpet with green properties used, My Tree House has been designed to entice children to read, explore, discover and learn about the environment in a fun, interactive and enjoyable way.
The World’s First Green Library
Jointly presented by City Developments Limited (CDL) and National Library Board (NLB), My Tree House serves as a resource centre to facilitate environmental literacy for children and challenge them towards caring about the environment.
CDL brought together 11 other like-minded collaborators to “create a completely green and innovative library to ignite in young minds a love for nature”.
As a result, My Tree House is the first library in the world to be steered by green principles in all facets, from design, infrastructure and use of sustainable materials, to collection and programming. Eco-friendly building materials including energy-efficient LED lighting, eco-friendly drywall partitions, and low VOC paints and adhesives for improved air quality were used.
With all these unique sustainable elements put in place, My Tree House received the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award, the highest tier for green buildings in Singapore.
The Tree House Centrepiece
The Tree House was conceptualised and placed right in the middle of this special library for a definite purpose. The imaginary roots of the tree, represented by the colours of the carpets, extend towards the various bookshelves all around. A deeply “rooted” foundation aids the growing mind and the “shooting” process reflects the cultivation of the mind to its fullest potential.
Photo: National Library Board
As you look at the top of the magical tree, you will discover that the “canopy” actually comprises the creative use of over 3,000 recycled plastic bottles collected from the public and City Square Mall.
The tree trunk is largely fabricated with aluminium, mild steel and plywood which are recyclable and fibreglass.
Green Library Collection In Store for Kids
The green library contains a collection of 45,000 books suitable for children aged 4 to 12 in four languages, and a significant 30% focuses on green topics such as animals, plants, nature, water resources, weather, environment, recycling and climate change.
Fiction books including fairy tales, fantasy and folklore, which are related to the theme of the enchanted forest, make up the other 70%. All this spells an enchanting green day out indeed for the kids.
In case you are wondering, the metal bookshelves from the original library were refurbished using sustainable materials, as were the new bookshelves, which have also been made from sustainable materials.
Kids can access over 180 green-themed eBooks and play educational games at the two E-Reading Kiosks along the wall on the right side of the library behind the Tree House Centrepiece. The eBooks are interactive and have a read-along feature.
The Weather Stump
Do not be stumped by a shorter tree stump next to the Tree House Centrepiece. Upon closer inspection, one will realise that this is a visual installation displaying three real-time weather markers – temperature, wind speed and rainfall.
Data is collected over a period of 24 hours at 5-minute intervals from real-time weather information at the Marina Barrage Station provided by the Meteorological Service Singapore.
The “age-rings” of a tree are a reminder that environmental changes are faithfully recorded by nature.
The blue to red colour range of the ring corresponds to the temperature of 20°C to 35°C.
Wind speed and direction are represented by the straight line. The longer the line, the faster the wind speed.
As for rainfall, the peaks are represented by squiggly lines. The higher the peak, the higher the rainfall.
The Knowledge Tree
At the far corner of the library is a shadow play wall known as The Knowledge Tree. An interactive installation has been designed with a question-and-answer component to raise awareness of how our action impacts the environment.
The scene is set in an enchanted forest where a magical tree grows. Answer the questions correctly and the forest will flourish. Answer them incorrectly and the forest withers!
Cosy Reading Corner
Parents with younger kids will naturally be drawn to the cosy corner on the left side of the library.
The blended space has been created with comfortable cushions and books within easy reach, so you can enjoy a good read with the kids.
The green learning journey is made complete with green-themed programming developed by NLB together with partners such as the National Climate Change Secretariat, National Environment Agency and National Parks Board. Visitors can look forward to:
- Weekly storytelling sessions for children aged 4 to 10;
- School holiday sessions on creating games and artwork using recycled materials with different sessions for younger kids aged 4 to 8, and older kids aged 9 to 12; as well as
- Guided tours to gardens and nature parks to liven up the learning experience.
Passport to Being an Earth Hero!
Children who complete a series of workshops, storytelling sessions, projects or craft activities, as well as borrow books from the green library will be given stamps for their passports and recognised as Earth Heroes! Get your passport from the librarians.
My Tree House is located within the Children Section at Central Public Library, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064. Opening hours are 10.00 am to 9.00 pm daily.
NLB conducts half-hour customised tours of the green library for small groups including schools and organisations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6332 3255 to arrange beforehand.
Read about the launch of My Tree House.