Singapore’s Changi Airport, featuring the world’s tallest indoor waterfall

Four years of construction and nonstop media coverage,Singapore’s long-awaited Jewel Changi Airport is officially open. Featuring a dramatic, doughnut-shaped exterior framed in steel and glass, the 135,700-square-meter space (around 1.46 million square feet) is a multi-use complex designed to connect three of Changi Airport’s four terminals. The glass and steel building is topped by a donut-shaped roof that spans over 200 m (650 ft) at its widest point. High-performance glazing provides natural light inside while minimizing heat gain and tests were carried out to ensure the glass wouldn’t create glare and distract air traffic controllers and pilots.
The building’s most notable feature is its waterfall, the 40 m (131 ft)-tall HSBC Rain Vortex, which channels rainwater through a central oculus on the roof at up to 10,000 gallons (almost 38,000 liters) per minute during heavy rain. The rainwater is used for building services and irrigation, as well as cooling the building’s interior. Elsewhere lies the Shiseido Forest Valley, which offers walking trails, additional smaller waterfalls, and seating areas. Surrounding this is a retail marketplace spread across five levels. The Canopy Park, meanwhile, features a suspended glass bottom bridge and one of the world’s largest net walks, suspended 25 m (82 ft) above ground.

What exactly is the Jewel?

Containing over 280 retail and food/beverage outlets, Jewel Changi Airport could easily be written off as a beautiful shopping mall filled with dramatic green spaces that just happens to be connected to an airport. After all, it’s not an airport terminal — there are no boarding gates or arrival halls, and anyone can visit. But the new Changi addition serves multiple purposes for travelers. In addition to linking Terminals 1, 2 and 3 (passengers heading to and from Terminal 4 need to take a shuttle bus), offerings include early check-in services and baggage storage facilities as well as a 130-cabin YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport hotel. There’s also the Changi Lounge, designed to complement a new intermodal transfer service that improves air-sea connectivity for cruise passengers.
Beyond expected amenities like free Wifi, Jewel offers a few little nice touches like power bank loans — free for 12 hours. When we were choosing the plants to feature in Jewel, we had to consider different criteria including aesthetics and their ability to thrive within the complex given its light levels, temperature and humidity conditions,” says Jeremy Yeo, Head of User Experience, Jewel Changi Airport.”Before they were transported to Singapore, many of the trees had to be pruned to fit into containers for sea freight. Once they arrived in Singapore, they were nursed back to health at an off-site nursery and acclimatized to Singapore’s tropical weather. The procurement of the trees took approximately nine months and another two years were given for the trees to be nursed locally. This process was critical in ensuring that the plants flourish in the climate within Jewel’s indoor environment.”

From parking lot to architectural paradise

The back story behind Jewel’s development is basically Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” in reverse.
Changi Airport Group has essentially turned a parking lot into an indoor paradise, inspired by Singapore’s reputation as a “city in a garden.””Back in 2010 we were looking at expanding the capacity of Terminal 1 and we decided that the open-air parking structure could potentially become a new integrated complex,” says Goh. That car park was transformed into the stunning space that now stands in its place, a marvel for those who have been following Jewel Changi Airport’s progress since 2013.