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Singapore’s stunning airport complex could be a tourist destination in itself

Get to Know Jewel Changi Airport

We can probably agree that unless you’re a plane spotter, an airport isn’t the kind of place where you want to hang out. But Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport could be about to change all that when its stunning Jewel complex opens next month.

The Jewel is a massive new shopping, dining, entertainment, and accommodation complex that’s connected to the airport and open to everyone, not just travelers.

Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie at a cost of $1.3 billion, the space is housed inside a striking dome-shaped glass and steel facade that’s bound to catch the eye of passengers as they come in to land at Singapore’s main hub.

Besides the Jewel’s 280 shopping and dining outlets, the interior also features the Rain Vortex, the 40-meter-high centerpiece described as the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. The Rain Vortex was designed in collaboration with WET, an American company responsible for attractions such as the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, which uses state-of-the-art technology to create grand, water-based performances.

The Jewel also features the extensive and climate-controlled Forest Valley gardens. Home to thousands of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, the beautifully landscaped space is lit up by natural light that filters in through the Jewel’s glass roof.

The location looks like it could become a popular destination for families, too, with plenty to keep the kids occupied, including Sky Nets that let you “walk on air,” an interactive Discovery Slide, “Foggy Bowls” where you can play in the mist, and the largest hedge maze in Singapore — a place you should probably avoid if you have a flight to catch.

The Jewel, which opens its doors on April 17, also features the first YotelAir hotel in Asia with 130 small but stylish cabins offering both connectivity and comfort.

Safdie — the man behind other architectural gems such as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, and the U.S. Institute of Peace Headquarters in Washington, D.C. — told CNN in 2018 that with the Jewel, he wanted to create something not seen before.

“I wanted to explore a new kind of urban space,” he said, adding that he thinks his team won the bid because competing designs “looked like malls and felt like malls, while this one, you don’t think of it as a mall, because it’s a new kind of experience. It makes us rethink what urban centers could be like if we stretch our thinking.”

Changi Airport, home to Singapore Airlines, has already won literally hundreds of international awards. The Jewel looks set to bring it many more.

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Trevor Mogg
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