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AIRPORT DESIGN Last modified on July 24, 2019

Jewel in the crown

Airport World finds out more about Singapore’s new mega retail, hospitality and leisure development, Jewel Changi Airport.

The eagerly awaited opening of Singapore Changi’s mega retail and lifestyle development, Jewel Changi Airport, has arguably taken non-aviation related activities at an airport to a new level and provided one of the world’s biggest hubs with a host of new revenue earning opportunities.

According to Singapore Changi operator, Changi Airport Group (CAG), the concept for Jewel’s design represents the juxtaposition of a park and a marketplace.

This, it says, is exemplified by the lush Forest Valley and majestic 40-metre high Rain Vortex – the world’s tallest indoor waterfall – that take centre stage in the glass and steel domed complex that boasts its own Canopy Park and over 280 shops and F&B outlets.

Designed by a consortium comprising Safdie Architects, RSP Architects Planners and Engineers and Benoy, the 137,000-square-metre retail, hospitality and leisure space acts as a central hub, connecting three of Changi Airport’s current four terminals, making it easily accessible to the public and passengers.

Benoy, which led the interior design, retail and aviation facility planning for Jewel, believes that it will quickly become a new landmark for Singapore.

“We’ve created a dynamic environment that becomes a unique place for travellers and residents alike. This addresses the important question of placemaking in the aviation context,” says Benoy’s director and head of its Singapore studio, Terence Seah.

“In the process too, Jewel has enhanced the already world famous Changi experience. We are confident that this development will inspire other cities to rethink the future of airports.”

Canopy Park

Located on the top level of Jewel, the picturesque Canopy Park covers 14,000sqm and is home to seven iconic play attractions and creative gardens in Singapore Changi’s groundbreaking new facility that promises to redefine the airport experience.

Jean Hung, CEO of Jewel Changi Airport, said: “Changi Airport holds a special place in the hearts of many, especially Singaporeans, and we want to extend this special bond for everyone who visits Jewel.

“The attractions and gardens in Canopy Park are designed for guests to relax or have a fun time with their families and friends, whether they reside in Singapore or are international travellers visiting Jewel.

“When Canopy Park was conceptualised, we envisaged a green natural environment with play and leisure activities for people of all ages. Importantly, we wanted to create a space where activities that are traditionally conducted outdoors, are brought to an indoor environment so that they can be enjoyed in all weather conditions.”

Canopy Park guests can look forward to navigating their way through the Mirror Maze and Hedge Maze, walking or bouncing on the Manulife Sky Nets, exploring the sculptural playscape of Discovery Slides, and enjoying a gripping view of the HSBC Rain Vortex and Shiseido Forest Valley from the Canopy Bridge, a bridge with glass panel flooring suspended 23 metres above ground.

Integrated with the attractions are interactive garden spaces that encourage play and imagination.

Foggy Bowls, for example, features four gentle concave bowls with an element of mist and fog to create the experience of playing amongst clouds. While Topiary Walk features animal topiaries such as orangutans, a crocodile, elephant, peacock and chameleon. Elsewhere,  Petal Garden will boast seasonal displays of flowers.

Along the main loop that connects these attractions are four noteworthy trees, including a pair of olive trees and the Lover’s Tree which earned its name because of its conjoined trunks.

The entrance fees to Canopy Park is S$5 (US$3.70), while access to the various attractions range from S$7.20 (US$5) to S$19.80 (US$14).

Jewel2

Changi Experience Studio

Level 4 of Jewel is home to the state-of-the-art digital experience attraction, the Changi Experience Studio. Described as a first-of-its-kind for Singapore, this aviation-themed attraction is designed to be a fun space that also takes visitors on a journey of discovery about Changi Airport.

CAG’s managing director for airport operations management, Jayson Goh, enthuses: “We want the studio journey to be one where visitors can actively participate in a playful journey full of surprises that allows them to understand the story and spirit of Changi in an experiential manner.

“Beyond the entertainment, visitors can learn about the past and present of Singapore’s air hub, the inner workings of the airport, and experience what makes Changi tick.

“Importantly, through the various touchpoints that showcase different airport functions, Changi Experience Studio is a living tribute to the 50,000-strong airport community that makes Changi Airport what it is today.

“We aspire for the studio to be a showcase of the Changi experience and service innovation. As an innovation space, the interactive exhibits will not remain static, but continue to evolve as new stories on Changi are written.”

Changi Experience Studio attractions include a garden that sings, an adrenaline-pumping runway race, a quest to collect airport trolleys, a battle of smiles and more.

CAG promises that with a collection of over 20 different touchpoints and 10 content zones spread over 3,000sqm, the Changi Experience Studio utilises technology to present a diverse mix of unique experiences under one roof, including interactive games, projection storytelling, immersive shows and gallery exhibits.

The studio opens daily from 10am to 10pm, with the entrance fees costing S$25 (US$18) for adults and S$17 (USD$12.50) for children or seniors. 

The passenger is king

Benoy says that its design approach to airport projects, and Jewel Changi Airport was no exception, is grounded in a design ethos and capability it calls ‘airports for people’.

It is an experience-led approach which incorporates Benoy’s history and expertise in retail, public spaces and consumer-centric design, while the central aim is to help optimise airport capacity, improve the passenger experience and increase commercial revenue.

‘Airports for people’ is said to encompass a range of major disciplines, such as commercial master planning, terminal design and airport repositioning, alongside more nuanced specialisms such as biophilia, wellness and digital relationships.

In all areas, this work is underpinned by rigorous data analysis which provides a deep understanding of passenger demographics.

Benoy’s head of aviation, David Coyne, explains: “Airports for people is aligned to the reality of the modern airport experience. The passenger has become increasingly important in terms of time spent in airport terminals. In fact, today the passenger is king.

“In our approach, we conduct detailed reviews of the passenger journey to ensure our designs are calibrated to passenger profiles, needs and expectations. As passengers move through an airport towards departure, we aim to minimise stress, maximise comfort and convenience, while increasing dwell time and, therefore, spend.”

No longer the utilitarian places they once were whereby people arrived, boarded a plane and departed, the best new airports, according to Benoy, are built around an expanded passenger experience which offers a greater variety of retail, pop-up, F&B and leisure options.

Coyne says: “In the last five or six years, airports have become destinations in their own right. People are wanting and expecting more. By offering diversity and quality in retail and food, for example, we’re responding directly to passenger demand.

“We’re also creating a holistic passenger experience which considers key transition areas, circulation routes and wayfinding, looking for opportunities to strengthen brand representation and deliver commercial value to our stakeholders.”

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