(DailyExpertNews) — Changi Airport in Singapore has long been considered a destination in its own right, so much more than just a generic space you pass through to get on a plane and fly somewhere else.
For ten years, it remained undefeated in Skytrax’s annual ‘World’s Best Airports’ awards, losing its crown to Qatar’s Hamad International Airport in 2021. In 2022, it moved into third place on the list, behind repeat winner Hamad International and Tokyo’s Haneda. Airport.
With travelers returning to the city-state and its much-hyped airport following the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions earlier this year, Singaporean officials are focusing on the future — and that includes expansion.
Details have recently been revealed for Terminal 5, with officials promising a space that will be a social extension of Singapore rather than just another piece of transport infrastructure.
“Airport as a city”
During a National Day Rally in late July, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that T5 will add capacity for around 50 million passengers a year.
That’s a big number, as the four current passenger terminals can handle about 82 million passengers a year.
Pointing to a map as he made his address, he noted that T5 will be the size of all four current terminals put together.
“We are building another new Changi airport,” he said. “It’s gigantic.”
Construction on T5 will begin in about two years, and the facility is expected to open to travelers in the mid-2030s. Located in the 1080-acre development of Changi East, it will have a three-lane system and will be linked to the other four terminals.
Lee noted that plans for the new terminal were shelved for two years due to the pandemic, which reassessed the long-term prospects for air travel and improved terminal design.
“We concluded that the future of aviation remains bright. With the borders reopening, people are traveling again,” he said. “Passenger traffic has already exceeded half of its pre-Covid-19 level.
“In the longer term, air traffic will continue to grow due to a fast-growing middle class in our region. That’s why we decided to go ahead and restart the T5 project.”
Changi Airport served 68.3 million passengers in 2019, ahead of the pandemic. After easing quarantine and testing requirements, passenger traffic reached 55% of pre-pandemic levels in July 2022, according to official airport figures.
Lee said the T5’s design takes into account recent pandemic challenges and can scale up and down, allowing officials to isolate passengers from different flights to limit cross-contamination.
The airport will also have non-contact systems at passenger contact points, as well as improved ventilation systems. In terms of sustainability, the airport terminal will have solar panels and smart building management systems. District cooling is combined with heat and cold storage in the terminal building.
“When the T5 is completed in the mid-1930s, it will show the world what kind of place Singapore is,” said Lee.
Changi Airport carried 68.3 million passengers in 2019.
Changi Airport Group
The terminal will be jointly designed by global architectural firms KPF and Heatherwick Studio.
According to information released by the companies, the concept will see the new terminal as a series of neighborhoods – “an intuitive extension of Singapore itself.”
This means that it will not be just one giant roof, but rather a series of human-scale social spaces offering different experiences ranging from small and intimate to large and expansive open spaces.
“Our intention is to redefine what an airport terminal can be,” designer Thomas Heatherwick said in a statement.
“Most airports aren’t great places to spend time, but Changi has always been different. Instead of making a single huge monolith on the edge of a city for the exclusive use of travelers, our plan is to create a social create space for people to live in the city is excited to visit.”
So what will it look like in real life? No renderings of the interior have been released, but KPF chief designer Trent Tesch says the design was inspired by Singapore’s unique blend of nature and city.
“We are aware of the international significance of this project and are focused on creating not only an iconic building that is recognizably Changi Airport, but also a memorable and positive experience for travelers and the general public,” he said in a statement. .
Changi .’s Backstory
Here’s a look at Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport, a stunning new addition to ‘the best airport in the world’.
Changi Airport opened in 1981 and replaced Paya Lebar Airport with one runway.
Construction on Terminal 2 had already begun in 1986 – in response to the increasing influx of passengers – with the opening of the new passenger facility in 1991.
But it was the introduction of some previously unheard of amenities that really took notice of the world’s travelers.
For example, in 1995, the world’s first transit zone pool was added to Changi, kicking off a series of additions that would further deepen the gap between the pool and other airports in the world.
Among these were the addition of a news centre, cinema and sports arena in 1998.
Changi Airport Terminal 3 — which now has a 12-meter mega slide and a butterfly garden — came into view in 2008. Terminal 4 followed, which opened in 2017.
Next up: Changi Jewel, which opened in 2019, gave locals with no plans to travel reason to get to the airport.
With a dramatic donut-shaped exterior framed in steel and glass, the 135,700 square meters (approximately 1.46 million square feet) space is a multi-purpose complex connecting three of Changi Airport’s four terminals.
Built at a cost of SG$1.7 billion (about US$1.18 billion) and designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Jewel has 10 floors – five above ground and five in the basement.
The star attraction here is the 40-meter-tall (about 130 feet) HSBC Rain Vortex, which flows through a huge oculus in the center of the structure and is billed as the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
There is also an 11-cinema IMAX theater and Shiseido Forest Valley, a four-story garden filled with walking trails amid over 235,000 square feet of landscaping, all around the Vortex Waterfall.
So while it will be more than a decade before Terminal 5 opens, travelers have plenty to get excited about flying through Changi in the meantime.
Top image: A view of Changi Airport’s Terminal 5, expected to open in the mid-2030s.