Singapore: Jewel Changi

Singapore: Jewel Changi

Singapore’s Changi airport has been voted world’s best on seven consecutive occasions, which is quite an acheivement for a facility that’s been a building site for most of that time. The latest Changi development, an NZ$2 billion known as Project Jewel, opened on 17 April 2019, and is a fusion of tropical garden and mega mall under a dramatic dome. 

Designed by Massachusetts-based Safdie Architects, Project Jewel has the stamp of Moshe Safdie's earlier work, with sinuous curves, geometric patterns created by 9,000 triangular glass panes and a lush tropical garden. His writing, teaching and design work has long stressed the importance of meaningful, vital, and inclusive spaces that enhance communities, with special attention to the essence of a particular location and culture.

In a visit to New Zealand for the Design Experience series in October 2017, Safdie’s Design Principal Jaron Lubin emphasised these principles when he spoke about the public regard for Changi’s control tower. Jewel represents a huge public space immediately adjacent to this Singapore symbol. It positions the public realm directly within the centre of the airport, which Lubin noted was very unusual.

Jewel has been placed next to Terminal One and is connected to Terminals Two and Three by means of air-conditioned linkways fitted with travellators. The intention is to create something that will exert a magnetic attraction on the public, encouraging them to visit again and again.

The 134,000 square metre, ten storey development sits within a glass façade constructed from thousands of triangular panels, supported by 18,000 steel beams. A five storey garden inside is home to 2.500 trees and 100,000 shrubs from all over the world. The garden’s piece de resistance is Rain Vortex, a dramatic 40 metre high waterfall curtain. Should the charms of this luxuriant oasis start to recede, then no matter; there are 280 shops and an hotel to amuse visitors.

The only feature not open to the public is the as yet unfinished 14,000 square metre Canopy Park, located at the top of the development. The park will feature a 50 metre long suspended bridge with glass flooring that will allow visitors to look down at the greenery below; a 250 metres-long bouncing net, which at its highest point, will be suspended three storeys above ground; and play attractions including mazes and slides.

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