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Earlier this month the Jewel at Singapore’s Changi Airport (the world’s best airport for the last seven years) was opened to the public.

Designed by Safdie Architects, the $1.26 billion development covers over 139 000 sqm combining a diverse mix of retail, restaurants, entertainment venues, and lush gardens all under on vast dome shaped roof with a 40m water fall at its core. Developed by Changi Airport Group (CAG) and real-estate company CapitaLand, the Jewel is intended to entice travelers to choose Singapore as a stop-over destination and also serve as an attractive draw for local residents.

All images courtesy Safdie Architects/Darren Soh

This report by CNBC’s Uptin Saiidi takes us inside the vast mixed-use complex, which extends five stories above ground and five stories below, connecting three of the airport’s current four terminals.

“Jewel weaves together an experience of nature and the marketplace, dramatically asserting the idea of the airport as an uplifting and vibrant urban center, engaging travelers, visitors and residents, and echoing Singapore’s reputation as ‘The City in the Garden’.”

Moshe Safdie

Project Description

via Safdie Architects

Jewel Changi Airport re-imagines the center of an airport as a major public realm attraction. Jewel offers a range of facilities for landside airport operations, indoor gardens and leisure attractions, retail offerings and hotel facilities, all under one roof. A distinctive dome-shaped façade made of glass and steel adds to Changi Airport’s appeal as one of the world’s leading air hubs.

Based on the geometry of a torus, the building is designed as a new central connector between the existing airport terminals at Singapore Changi Airport. At its core is the Forest Valley, a terraced garden attraction that offers many spatial and interactive experiences for visitors. The Forest Valley also includes walking trails, cascading waterfalls, and quiet seating areas. Surrounding the gardens is a multi-level retail marketplace on five levels, which features access to the garden via a series of vertical canyons.

At the apex of Jewel’s glass roof is an oculus that showers water down to the center of the building. The Rain Vortex will be the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, transforming into a light and sound show in the evening. During the region’s frequent and powerful thunderstorms, recirculated, natural rainwater will flow at more than 10,000 gallons per minute, which helps provide cooling and airflow in the landscape environment, collecting significant rainwater to be re-used in the building.

Jewel represents an innovation in the world of lifestyle/retail design, with a one-of-a-kind relationship between garden and marketplace. In addition, nowhere in the world has a building been constructed that integrates the public realm with an airport facility so closely. The building extends Changi Airport’s principal function as a transit hub, to a public gathering space for Singaporeans and international travelers, establishing a new model for airports as discrete destinations for shopping, entertainment, and social activity.

On the 5th level is the Canopy Park, which includes 14,000 square meters of attractions integrated within the garden spaces. These include net structures suspended within the trees, a suspended catenary glass-bottom bridge walk, a planted hedge maze and mirror maze, and feature installations completed in collaboration with internationally acclaimed artists. There is also a topiary walk and other horticultural displays. On the north side of the park is an event plaza space big enough to serve 1,000 people.

Conceived to serve the people of Singapore and travelers equally, the building is directly connected to the Changi Bus Terminal and the airport’s Terminal 1. It is also accessible from Terminals 2 and 3 via pedestrian bridges, and the interterminal train crosses through the gardens, giving visitors with limited time a glimpse into the Forest Valley.

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