Changi Airport’s new complex puts transiting on a different plane

The roof of the Jewel complex at Singapore's Changi airport
Featuring 9,600 pieces of glass and 18,000 steel beams, the roof of the Jewel complex at Singapore’s Changi airport will provide shelter for the Canopy Park, the city-state’s largest indoor garden.
(Image credit: Darren Soh)

Regularly voted the best transport hub in
 the world, Singapore’s Changi Airport already offers flyers a menu of distractions that includes 24-hour spas; two cinemas; a clinic; cactus, orchid and butterfly gardens; Xbox stations; free Snooze Lounges; and a rooftop swimming pool. The Jewel Changi Airport project, though, makes all that a light aperitif.

Connected to the airport’s existing terminals 1, 2 and 3 by pedestrian bridges, 
the Moshe Safdie-designed – with project architects RSP – S$1.7bn (£917m) complex is the centrepiece of Singapore’s outsized aviation ambitions. When it opens next year, the enormous glass-and-steel cocoon will enclose a 134,000 sq m space filled with some 300 boutiques, bars and restaurants, as well as a 130-room hotel.
 Its five-storey indoor garden will boast 1,400 trees; 25m-high walkways made from netting, giant slides and mazes; a 50m-long suspended bridge; and a 40m waterfall at its core.

A dedicated facility for seamless fly-cruise and fly-coach travelling services, meanwhile, will make transfers to waiting ships and outbound road trips a breeze. The entire development fits like a complex jigsaw within ten storeys, five of which are below ground.

Building Jewel in a working airport environment added enormously to the complexity of construction, says Jean Hung, CEO of Jewel Changi Airport Development. ‘We’ve needed precise coordination to minimise disruption to the current airport operations,’ she explains. Unsurprisingly, one of the more critical design and engineering challenges has been to specify special glass that prevents glare from affecting air traffic controllers in the adjoining control tower. The façade is also double-glazed to minimise aircraft noise levels within the Jewel complex.

Soon to be joined by a Heatherwick Studio and Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed Terminal 5, Jewel, says Hung, will help make Changi ‘a compelling destination that can fill travellers’ needs for an experiential journey’.

As originally featured in the June 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*231)


For more information, visit the Safdie Architects website, the RSP website and the Jewel Changi Airport website

Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.