Where once sat a car park, there will soon be thousands of trees and plants across 22,000 sq metres of landscaped indoor parklands. This will be joined by a 40m-high indoor waterfall, expected to be the world’s tallest. These are the plans for the new 3.5 hectare ‘Jewel’ development at Singapore’s Changi Airport, scheduled to open in 2018; a five-storey, 134,000 square metre complex, blending natural outdoor flora with modern airport facilities.
‘The intent behind the introduction of such lush landscaping was purely to provide all visitors with a memorable experience, one where they are surrounded by nature and greenery,’ says Philip Yim, Chief Executive Officer of Jewel Changi Airport Development.
Promised sustainability measures include 'extensive usage of photovoltaic panels’ to generate renewable energy, as well as encouraging the use of natural lighting and a ‘high efficiency’ air-conditioning system.
The indoor waterfall, named the ‘Rain Vortex’, will utilise special lighting effects to transform at night into what is promised to be a dramatic light and sound show. ‘The Rain Vortex is one example of how sustainable design plays an important role in the planning of the attraction,’ says Yim. ‘In the event of a rain storm, the power of the rain water will flow naturally through the oculus. The excess rain water collected will be used for irrigation of the landscaping at Jewel.’
Yim quotes the popular reputation Singapore enjoys as ‘the garden city’, where greenery is recognised as an essential component of the urban landscape, a seductive image which clearly inspires Jewel’s design.
However, it remains to be seen whether, beyond the aesthetic appeal, Jewel can add genuine environmental credentials to something as inherently un-environmental as an international airport.
This article was published in the April 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine