Falling for the Jewel

John Hill
15. April 2019
Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Changi Airport Singapore consistently ranks as the world's best airport in terms of traveler satisfaction. Having flown in and out of the airport in 2013 to attend WAF, I can only agree; it's the only airport I'd actually want to arrive at hours early, so as to take advantage of the free movies and other features. The Jewel, which replaces an old parking lot, adds even more amenities to the already loaded airport. 

Officially, the 135,700 m2 building offers "both local residents and international visitors a multi-faceted experience that includes attractions, unique shopping and dining concepts, as well as airport and accommodation facilities." The building, sitting atop 2,500 parking spaces spread across four basement levels, consists of a Yotelair, check-in facilities for travelers, over 280 shops and restaurants, and at the center of it all, the Rain Vortex with its Forest Valley and Canopy Park.

Building section from Jewel Changi Airport brochure (PDF link)

The 40m-high Rain Vortex sits at the center of the Jewel. Like an indent in the longspan glass dome, the form of the building was based on a torus, per the website of Safdie Architects. More than 10,000 gallons of water, some of it rainwater, falls through the oculus every minute. The Forest Valley and Canopy Park allow visitors to take a break from the fairly traditional mall and immerse themselves in a lush oasis.

While most airports serve to move travelers from point A to point B, the Jewel looks like Singapore's attempt to make its airport a destination in and of itself.

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