From Realtà Mapei International n° 80 - 6/9/2020
Designed by the Israeli-Canadian architect, designer and urban planner Moshe Safdie, who previously designed the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore (for more information consult Realtà Mapei International 33/2010), Jewel Changi Airport is the new retail hub made from steel and glass which, since 2019, with its network of footbridges and an overhead railway line, connects three of the four terminals of Singapore’s main airport.
The airport is at the heart of a regeneration and expansion process and Jewel Changi is the latest of a series of futuristic projects for the structure.
It consists of an imposing hall that connects three of the airport’s terminals, characterised by a large tropical garden dominated by a ring-shaped glass roof, at the centre of which there is the highest artificial indoor waterfalls in the world. The aim of the project was to transform the airport into a destination in its own right. In fact, inside the structure (which has a surface area of 134,000 m2), visitors find more than 300 shops and boutiques, restaurants, a cinema with 11 screens, a 130 cabin Yotelair, gardens and pedestrian areas.
DESIGNING A WATERFALL IN AN AIRPORT
The structure of Jewel Changi is divided into two main blocks: a rectangular basement slab where the carpark, a cinema and service areas are located, and the toroid-shaped main building, spanning over 10 storeys (five of them are located underground), hosting the shops and boutiques over seven floors and featuring a large terraced greenhouse with a glass cupola roof.
And it is the last of these areas that makes this airport so unique; a tropical garden over five levels, with an imposing glass and steel cupola, a bridge for the shuttle service connecting the various terminals, and a large artificial waterfall at the centre of the building.
The heart of the complex is the Shiseido Forest Valley covered by a large glass cupola, featuring a large, terraced garden with walkways and relaxation areas where more than 120 carefully selected plant species from all over the world are nurtured at a constant, controlled temperature of 23-24 °C, and a view overlooking the 40 m high Rain Vortex, the highest indoor waterfall in the world.
Apart from being an iconic symbol of the airport, the waterfall is an installation that allows rainwater to be collected and then recycled into an irrigation system. The roof is made up of a 200 m long by 150 m wide toroid-shaped, grid-shell framework, the only one of its kind. The cupola is covered by more than 9,300 glass panels, that allow the right amount of luminosity and light to flow into the complex, and has a 12 m diameter opening in the middle from where the water for the waterfall flows through.