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Thursday, March 23, 2023

This airport has a pool, a waterfall and… more

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

Airports aren’t what they used to be. They are no longer boring and gray places where you can kill hours in boredom.

The best airports are not just boarding facilities, but destinations in their own right. They have been turned into something like huge shopping malls with shops, restaurants and a range of entertainment options.

It’s not about some takeaway sandwiches or airplane pillows and magazines. And for a place where people only go for entertainment, not to travel – like Singaporeans do.

The airport of the financial hub – Changi, has held the crown as the best airport in the world for almost a whole decade in the prestigious ranking of the consulting company Skytrax. In the last two, however, he lost positions and, according to the current ranking, he is already in third place – after Hamad in Doha and Haneda in Tokyo, writes webcafe.bg.

But now that air traffic has started to pick up after the pandemic hiatus, the city-state’s authorities are determined to put Changi back on top.

A new, fifth terminal at the airport is under construction, which will have almost the same capacity as the other 4 combined.

The idea is not just to bring in new transport infrastructure for more passengers to pass through one of Asia’s busiest airports, but to create a new social space.

According to the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, the new terminal will be able to be used by another 50 million passengers a year, and will be the same size as the other four. Currently, 82 million people pass through Changi every year.

“We are building another new Changi Airport,” he explained.

Given what this airport stands for now, we can only guess at what heights it may reach in the future.

Changi has grown steadily since its emergence in the early 1980s, along with the number of passengers passing through this Asian hub.

For years, however, the airport has also been known as an innovator. For example, in 1995, the world’s first swimming pool opened there, which is located in the transit area of ​​an airport. Then a cinema, a gym and a butterfly garden also appeared.

However, in 2019, it opened another area that completely changed the traditional concept – “Jewel of Changi” – a multi-purpose complex designed not only for travelers, but also for residents of Singapore to visit the airport for entertainment and shopping.

The “Jewel” is circular in shape, lined with steel and glass, with an area of ​​over 135,000 sq.m. on 10 floors – half underground, and connects three of the airport’s terminals. It costs over 1.1 billion dollars.

In the center is the main attraction – “The Whirlwind of Rain” – a 40-meter water cascade that resembles rain pouring from the roof and is considered the highest indoor waterfall in the whole world.

At night, the walls of the waterfall become a screen for a light and sound show. The trains that transport passengers between the various terminals pass by the falls, so even those who don’t have a long layover can see it.

Around the waterfall there is a huge, 5-story high garden with walking paths, separately on the top level there is another park with gardens and recreational facilities.

Shiseido Forest Valley is also one of the largest indoor gardens in Asia – it is located on 22,000 square meters, has 3,000 trees and 60,000 shrubs of 120 species, most typical of tropical forests.

In addition to all this indoor nature, there are 300 restaurants and shops, a cinema, a hotel and places of entertainment for children and adults.

Thus, the “Jewel” has become a tourist attraction in itself – 300,000 people pass through it a day, many of them locals who are not flying anywhere.

Or in other words – a shopping center in a city park, which, however, is indoors, and at an airport. Thus, the “Jewel” personifies Singapore itself and is part of the authorities’ concept of turning the entire city-state into a “Garden City”.

The requests for the new terminal definitely hint at more natural wonders under the roof of an airport.

Work on it is expected to begin in 2 years, and it will receive its first passengers around the middle of the next decade.

The terminal is also conceived as something of an extension of the city itself and will be a series of neighborhoods, according to the design of the architects hired for the construction by KPF and Heatherwick Studio.

The idea is not for a giant building with one roof, but for multiple spaces with a different feel – from smaller, even intimate, to large and spacious.

“We aim to change the perception of what an airport can be. Most are not a pleasant place to spend time, but Changi has always been different,” commented designer Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studio.

“Instead of making a huge, monolithic building on the outskirts of a city for a single use, our plan is to create a social space that people who live in the city enjoy visiting,” he adds.

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