Article | Singapore’s $1.3 billion airport expansion is half botanical garden, half mega-mall

Fast Company

Jewel Changi is not an airport, nor an amusement park, nor a retail hub–it’s something in between.

Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport is regularly voted as the best airport in the world, a title it just secured for the seventh consecutive year in spite of–or perhaps because of–its frenetic pace of expansion over the past decade. . . . The most ambitious of these expansion plans, though, is not a terminal. It is a hub called Jewel that’s not quite mall or entertainment complex, not quite botanical garden, and not quite airport lounge or arrival area. When it opens its doors next week, the $1.3 billion building will be accessible not only to travelers but also the public. “This is showing you could have a new kind of public realm that’s energized by the airport,” as architect Moshe Safdie told me a few years ago. Rather, Jewel is “a place that’s an integral part of the city–not just transportation.”

In other words, it’s an engineering and planning spectacle–the success of which is due, in part, to the country’s focus on urban planning and building regulations. . . . The city-state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority gives architects clear briefs that go far beyond most conventional building projects. 

These guidelines “go beyond spatial, volumetric zoning of a building,” as Jaron Lubin, Design Principal at Safdie Architects, explains. “They get into how do you connect connect to the sidewalk or public transportation? Where do you park your bike? What should be the appropriate locations for rain protection, because it rains all the time? With that kind of framework, architects are already well informed in terms of their responsibility to meet all these objectives… You already come into this world where there’s this group of people on the government side that are promoting positive urban design.” 

Could something like Jewel ever be built in the U.S.? That’s still unclear. “The best cities come about from that dialog between the creativity of a designer at the forward-looking, thoughtful city planning groups,” Lubin says.

Excerpted from a piece by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan. Read the complete article on the Fast Company site or download it as a pdf below.

All images credit to Changi Airport Group.

Published in Media on April 12, 2019

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