Jewel Changi Airport, home of world’s tallest indoor waterfall, opens for business

Jewel Changi Airport's waterfall measures 40 m (131 ft)-tall
Jewel Changi Airport’s waterfall measures 40 m (131 ft)-tall. (Credit: Jewel Changi Airport Devt).

Following over four years of construction, work is now finally complete on the Safdie Architects-led Jewel Changi Airport project. The impressive building, complete with indoor forest and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, opened to travelers on April 17.

As we previously reported, the project consists of a 135,700 sq m (1,460,660 sq ft) building named the Jewel, which serves as a new centerpiece to what was previously called Changi Airport in Singapore. 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.

Jewel Changi Airport is slated to receive Green Mark Platinum, a Singaporean green building standard, due...

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.

Jewel Changi Airport's Manulife Nets in the Canopy Park area are suspended 25 m (82 ft)...

The Jewel is home to over 2,000 trees and palms and over 100,000 shrubs, hailing from Australia, China, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, and the USA. Importing the greenery was a significant task in itself.

“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.”

Jewel Changi Airport's slides are located within a reflective art installation

Some of the other firms involved in the project include BuroHappold Engineering, Atelier Ten, RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, WET, and Peter Walker and Partners.

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