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Changi Airport Singapore’s new Jewel, The world’s best airport is now even better!


Jewel Changi Airport is now open: The centerpiece of Singapore’s highly anticipated new Jewel Changi Airport is the Rain Vortex. At 130 feet in height, it’s the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

Following 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.

But above all, the April 17 opening confirms long-held suspicions that yes, the “world’s best airport” is now even better and will likely hold onto its top spot on the Skytrax rankings, which it has dominated for the past seven years, for the foreseeable future.

Built at a cost of SG$1.7 billion (about US$1.25 billion) and designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Jewel has 10 stories — five above ground and five in the basement.

The star attraction is the 40-meter-tall (around 130 feet) HSBC Rain Vortex, which cascades through a huge oculus in the middle of Jewel and is billed as the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

It’s a dramatic site that’s usually heard before it’s seen as passengers exit the retail and dining zones that wrap around Jewel’s outer sections and head toward the center, where they’re met with the thunderous sounds of a waterfall that appears to fall from the sky.


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.

There are plenty of diversions for travelers stuck in Changi on a long layover, too, including an 11-cinema IMAX theater.
Jewel’s Shiseido Forest Valley is a four-story garden filled with walking trails set amid more than 235,000 square feet of landscaping, all surrounding the Vortex waterfall.

Rainwater is collected and it becomes a part of the Vortex as well,” Jayson Goh, managing director for airport operations management of Changi Airport Group,

“We can actually control the volume of flow. Below the Vortex, we have tanks to collect the rainwater so that we can recycle it. When there’s an excess of rainwater, it can be used for irrigation of the plants in the Forest Valley.”

A Skytrain, which connects Changi terminals 1, 2 and 3, cuts through the middle of the Jewel, passing by the Vortex and adding to the photogenic scene.

On the top floor is the 14,000-square-meter Canopy Park, which has several restaurants and themed gardens. Though some sections are open, work is still underway on this one. The park’s Canopy Mazes, Sky-Nets, Discovery Slides, and 50-meter Canopy Bridge won’t be ready until mid-2019.

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, when news of the airport expansion — then simply named “Project Jewel” — first broke.

Given that the architect behind the project is Moshe Safdie, at the time already famous for designing another Singapore icon, Marina Bay Sands, hopes were high that he would deliver an equally impactful building.

“I wanted to explore a new kind of urban space, a space you go to as a matter of course, because you need to shop, because you’re flying out somewhere, and yet it’s a garden — somewhere that says ‘let’s rethink what the public realm is, let’s rethink what it is to shop,'”

“I think one of the reasons [we won] the bid was that the other submissions looked like malls and felt like malls, while this one, you don’t think of it as a mall, because it’s a new kind of experience. It makes us rethink what urban centers could be like if we stretch our thinking.”

In most cities, a trip to the airport is not something people would consider “fun,” beyond the excitement of knowing you’re boarding a plane to go on a holiday or pick up a loved one.

In Singapore, however, the airport is just 30 minutes or less from the central business district, making it feasible that locals will actually head there for a meal or to take in a movie on a regular basis.

The Changi Airport Group is banking on this, with multiple executives saying they expect it to be a popular spot among Singapore residents. “I think the opening of Jewel does create a lot of excitement amongst local residents as well, and we’ll try our best to deepen this,” says Goh.

“Singapore’s a small place and therefore we do get a lot of local residents coming to the airport to spend their weekends here. We have people coming here to study, we have people coming here on dates. In fact, we always get requests from local residents who want to take wedding photos.”

In terms of offerings that might entice locals, Jewel has a few Singapore firsts in its food and beverage and retail offerings. These include US burger chain Shake Shack, the UK’s Lobster & Burger and the world’s first Pokemon Center outside of Japan.


Keeping the “world’s best airport” ahead of the competition means there’s no time to sit around and bask in the aquatic glow of the Vortex as thousands of visitors begin to flood Jewel’s spaces.

Changi Airport is currently the world’s seventh busiest airport for international traffic, with a record 65.6 million passengers passing through its four terminals in 2018, according to the most recent airport figures.

It connects to over 400 cities globally and serves more than 100 airlines, with a plane taking off or landing every 80 seconds.



A Moshe Safdie design: Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Jewel’s iconic dome-shaped glass and steel structure will serve as a central hub connecting three out of four of Changi Airport’s terminals.


Canopy Park: The 14,000-square-meter Canopy Park will include gardens, walking trails, restaurants, and a 164 foot-long Canopy Bridge.


A 10-story complex: The complex covers a total gross floor area of over 1.46 million square feet and has 10 stories — five above ground and five below.


Sky nets: Jewel’s suspended bouncing and walking nets will open in June of 2019.


Discovery slides: Jewel’s four integrated slides, also opening later this year, will offer fun for children and adults passing through Changi Airport Singapore.


Jewel at night: Some of Jewel’s many art installations will light up at night — including the stunning Crystal Clouds.


YotelAir: Jewel Changi Airport also contains Asia’s first YotelAir hotel. With 130 rooms that can be booked for a minimum of four hours, it offers flexible accommodation options.


A shopping and dining destination: Jewel has more than 280 shops and restaurants, including many homegrown brands.


Multimodal transport lounge’: Jewel’s “multimodal transport lounge” will offer ticketing and boarding pass and baggage transfer services, as well as early check-in facilities.


The Changi Lounge: Jewel will also serve passengers visiting Singapore for a cruise. The Changi Lounge is dedicated to fly-cruise and fly-ferry passengers, connecting them onward to cruise and ferry services.


An indoor forest: Jewel boasts a huge indoor collection of plants, with green elements weaving through 226,000 square feet of space.


credits: CNN

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