Where are the boundaries between the real world and that of dreams or imagination? Where is the border between the tangible and the intangible, between fiction and reality?
Immersive architecture makes it difficult to draw that line, or to choose which side to be on. As such it provides a good example of how the two worlds merge and form part of a whole. The aim is to provide a unique experience for visitors. Yes, it is Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport, a jewel that combines nature and technology, created by the studio Safdie Architects.
In a society where numbers and records are so important, Jewel Changi Airport breaks every mould. The reason is that the immersive experience is so captivating, original and impressive that what matters least are the square metres of land, because the visit is measured in emotions and surprises.
For Safdie Architects, Jewel Changi Airport is the embodiment of a perfect fusion of technology and nature. It is a comfortable space that invites you to enjoy, feel relaxed and move through the airport safely and pleasantly. With its neo-futuristic design, it advocates a return to the most ancestral, deepest and wildest past, surrounded by the fresh greenery of its vegetation. in an environment where the sounds and murmuring of human activity merge with the sound of falling water. However, at the same time, it is a bold bid for the future. A future that, increasingly, is motivated by technology and innovation at the service of the people.
The futuristic space envelops visitors and immerses them in a world of their own.
The more than 300 awards that the Jewel Changi Airport has racked up since its inauguration are dwarfed by the millions of experiences, emotions and feelings that it has gifted its visitors over the years. For 8 years running, World Airport Awards has considered it the best airport in the world. Not only that but it has also won prestigious prizes such as the International Architecture Award and the Best Futura Shopping Centre at the MAPIC Awards.
It is a perfect fusion of urban centre, technological space, Asian jungle and garden paradise.
Its ten floors and 135,700 square metres house several terminals, themed gardens, forests, and almost three hundred shops. In addition, it has over a hundred specially designed spaces for travellers to rest or spend the night, along with restaurants. It also has transit areas for the shuttles connecting the different terminals.
There are straight lines and curves in its white walls, and glass panels on its internal balconies, and escalators. These are surrounded by a steel and glass structure. In this way it further conveys the sensation of movement and calm that this space affords.
The enchanted forest and the record-breaking waterfall: sustainability and creativity that form a world of their own.
The space, covered with vegetation from the ground up and rising to different heights, is known as the Shiseido Forest Valley. It forms an indoor forest that you can penetrate as if you were entering a Southeast Asian jungle. At the top its terraces give the impression of reaching the peak with vistas of the waters of the South China Sea. Or maybe it seems like a populous city with its ancient structures alongside modern buildings.
The creation of cobbled paths allows travellers to feel as if they are walking through nature. And presiding over the site, drawing all the attention and amazing visitors is the impressive Rain Vortex indoor waterfall. It is the highest in the world. With its spectacular circular waterfall in which 38,000 litres of reclaimed rainwater circulate every minute. It does so with a breath-taking 40-metre drop.
Venturing into Canopy Park: a unique immersive experience
Canopy Park is an even more immersive experience, a space to dive into lose and yourself in its 14,000 square metres. There are all kinds of attractions integrated in the different parts of the garden, including net structures suspended 25 metres above ground.
The glass-bottomed suspended catenary bridge is just one of the many elements that surprise visitors. As they wander round the space they can boldly enter a maze of hedges and a labyrinth of mirrors.
Art installations that enliven space and enrich the visitor’s experience.
The art installations allow for enjoyable experiences and contribute to the immersive feelings that visitors experience in this space. One such installation is Crystal Clouds, with its 16 playful simulated clouds created by Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot. It comprises artificial clouds that reflect weather patterns with changing lighting sequences.
Coming back down to earth and decidedly less dreamlike is the artistic safari of artworks. These depict in a naturalistic manner a number of life size animals created by different artists. This is the favourite place for children to take selfies. One of the main highlights being the composition of two orangutans sitting on a log.
A futuristic glass dome guards and protects Jewel Changi Airport
Keeping the environment clean, enjoying the natural light coming from outside and the feeling of being in a real jungle full of vegetation, waterfalls, shops, restaurants and entertainment is all possible. It is achieved thanks to the geometric glass and steel dome covering the facilities which hides an efficient displacement ventilation system. Each one of its over 9,300 glass panels has a built-in 16-millimetre air chamber that allows you to enjoy the interior without hearing the noise of aeroplanes.
Seen from the inside, the pattern of the steel and glass structure is modern, futuristic and welcoming. The regularity of its design conveys a sense of security and calm. The glazing provides protection from the elements and lets in outside light acting as a modern greenhouse. In this way it contributes to the cleanliness of the environment through the purity of filtered light.
From the outside it is seen as an impressive innovative pavilion connected by an imposing high glass tunnel supported by columns structured to resemble tree branches. Surrounded by roads and vegetation, the tunnel creates a sense of enigmatic space in an orderly, modern city.
Jewel Changi Airport is a functional space, but it is also a fresh and enveloping neo-futuristic environment where you feel that you are both in a jungle and an urban city as well. At the same time, art, architecture, nature, engineering and technology converge and coexist to provide a unique immersive experience for the visitor.