Airport architecture is a complex typology in which to innovate. Restrictive technical, security, and circulatory requirements force designs along limited (and precedented) paths; little budget is left over to create space for respite, let alone beauty.
Which makes the central space of Safdie Architect's design for Singapore's Changi Airport all the more unusual. Jewel Changi Airport reinvents the public concourse not just as an in-between space for travelers, but as a major public attraction. Public transit form the city passes through the city and the large garden and shopping space within the central dome establishes it as a node for public gathering. In the future, an event space on the north side of the park will host public events for up to 1000 people.
The structure, a torus-shaped glass dome, houses a lushly planted forest that climbs up the sides of the glass structure. The garden will include meandering walking trails, seating areas, and even a number of artificial waterfalls. An oculus at the center of the space, named the Rain Vortex, will allow water to cascade into the center of the space. Upon the building's completion, it will be the tallest interior waterfall in the world. Rainwater that falls into the fountain will be pumped through the waterfall and used throughout the airport for building services and landscape irrigation systems. The oculus and flowing water also act as a passive cooling system.
Visitors to the Forest Valley will also enjoy five levels of shopping space on either side of the garden. Vertical valleys slice through the commercial space, allowing both access between the two zones and bringing light to the lower levels.
The building is currently under construction and is expected to reach completion in 2019.