What's new at Singapore’s Changi Airport

Having picked up a string of accolades, Singapore’s Changi Airport just got even more spectacular.Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Singapore’s Changi Airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport
photo by Getty

How do you improve the world’s best airport? Just ask the architects behind Jewel, the much-awaited addition to Singapore’s Changi Airport.


The island state’s gateway has been voted the world’s best a respectable seven times by airport reviewer Skytrax, but it hasn’t rested on its laurels. Instead, after nearly five years of construction, Jewel Changi Airport has finally opened its doors to take the award-winning hub to new levels. Passengers can now linger amid dining spots, hotels, boutiques, art installations, a maze and a cinema, all clustered in a futuristic space that’s set to make the airport a destination in its own right for both local Singaporeans and travellers-in-transit alike.


But for the most striking feature of the S$1.7bn (£1bn) complex, travellers should look up. A giant, bagel-shaped glass roof crowns the airport, its design inspired by Singapore’s mantra of being a ‘city within a garden’. Imagine a vivarium-meets-the-Louvre: a crisscrossing canopy of glass and steel, concealing a lush ‘magical garden’ (as described by its architect, the renowned Moshe Safdie), dotted with ponds, sculptures and walking trails. It’s also home to the world’s largest indoor waterfall: a rainwater cascade falling 130ft from an oculus in the ceiling into a pool below. By night, however, it takes on another guise altogether as the Rain Vortex. This mesmeric sound-and-light show kicks off after dark, and sees multicoloured projections cast onto the column of tumbling water.


For travellers bumping the airport to the top of their Singapore itinerary, there’s even a chance for an early check-in with over 20 different carriers, including British Airways and Singapore Airlines. For the passengers just passing through, however, you’ll need to plan ahead — the airport recommends a stopover of at least five hours to clear customs and make the most of Jewel’s sparkling new offerings.

 

Innovative airports

The techy one: LGW
Passengers at Gatwick will be able to have their cars securely parked by robots from this summer. It’ll massively boost the number of parking spaces, but let’s just hope their parallel parks are as good as yours.

The musical one: LAX
Los Angeles’ airport is getting tuneful for another year. LAX Presents sees nearly 40 musicians staged across its terminals until December, covering genres as diverse as the city itself: from jazz piano to bossa nova.

The social one: ICN
A cast of helpful android assistants arrived at Incheon Airport in Seoul last year to help passengers. The savvy AIRSTAR robots can direct passengers to departure gates and check-in desks.

Did you know?

Jewel’s specially designed exterior transmits light and reduces heat intake, allowing the plants inside to flourish within regulated temperatures

Published in the Jul/Aug 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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