Travelling Through the Jewel of the Orient
Size: 38 500 m²
Location: Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore
With its iconic toroidal architecture, lush gardens, unique shopping and dining experiences, and 40-metre-long indoor waterfall straight out of a scene in Jurassic Park, Jewel Changi Airport (Jewel) is a multi-dimensional entertainment and lifestyle destination for Singapore residents and international travellers to enjoy.
Jewel is an award-winning landmark on Singapore’s skyline with a biophilic design that becomes an extension of the city’s reputation of being a ‘City in a Garden’. Changi Airport Group originally set out to transform the airport from being just an air transport node to a destination in and of itself. As such, the ultimate aims of the project were to capture tourism mindshare and entice travellers to choose Singapore as their preferred stopover. The 135,700 m² (floor area) complex comprises a total of ten storeys — five above ground and five basement storeys — integrated with live, work, and play attractions all under one roof.
The dome-shaped roof façade is a contiguous grid shell supported by a ring of 14 tree-like columns and a ring beam at the edge of the roof. The special high-performance architectural glass material used in the façade has the dual ability of transmitting light and reducing heat gain, thus enabling plant growth in the indoor gardens while providing sustainable cooling.
Each glass panel also has a 16 mm air gap to insulate against noise emitted from aircraft and ensure that noise levels within the building are kept to a minimum. Likewise, a series of tests and research were conducted to ensure that the glare emitted off the glass surface will not interfere with the daily operations of air traffic controllers as well as aircraft that are approaching the two runways at Changi Airport.
Based on the geometry of a torus, Jewel is designed as a central connector between the airport terminals at Changi Airport. Jewel is directly accessible from the Terminal 1 Arrival Hall and linked to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 via link bridges. Those entering the complex from the main drop-off point and the terminal linkages are greeted with themed gateway gardens to start their Jewel journey.
Natural forest environment
Jewel’s indoor greenery occupies a total area of 21 000 m² within the development, enjoyed by millions of passengers in transit areas. Home to more than 2000 trees and palms and over 100 000 shrubs, the airport has 120 different species originating from countries such as Australia, China, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, and the USA.
Before being shipped to Singapore, the trees had to undergo pruning to fit into sea containers. After arrival, they were cared for at an off-site nursery as they adjusted to the tropical weather of Singapore. The procurement of the trees took nearly a year, followed by two more years of local nursing to ensure they thrive in the humidity, light, and temperature of Jewel’s indoor climate.
Waterfall in the sky
Located in the heart of the Jewel at the apex of the glass roof is an oculus that showers water down to the centre of the building, creating the majestic HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Rainwater is funnelled into the waterfall and harvested for landscape irrigation systems.
Valleys and canyons
The Shiseido Forest Valley is a terraced garden attraction that offers many spatial and interactive experiences for visitors, including quiet seating areas surrounded by stunning greenery and a retail marketplace accessed through a series of vertical canyons. Two nature trails meander through the gardens, climbing 30 metres from bottom to top. Visitors can take a gentle hike up the cobblestoned East and West Trail, punctuated by idyllic cascading waterfalls and mist clouds which add to the Valley’s whimsical atmosphere. The shrubs are shade-tolerant and have adapted to space constraints, akin to understorey plants in real forests.
Located on Jewel’s topmost level, the Canopy Park is a 14 000 m² space featuring play attractions, themed gardens, and dining outlets in climate-controlled comfort.
MEET THE TEAM
Developer: Changi Airport Group and CapitaLand
Principal architect: Safdie Architects
Local architect: RSP Architects Planners & Engineers
Landscape architect: PWP Landscape Architecture and ICN Design