Airports are monuments to human ingenuity. Airplanes? Improbable. Moving walkways? Brilliant. Bottled water that cost $5? Annoying but savvy. What airports are not, for all their human-made conveniences, is natural.
Moshe Safdie is hoping to change that with his design for a new hub at Singapore’s Changi Airport, set to open April 17. Safdie, who’s perhaps best known for his famed Brutalist apartment complex in Montreal, led the design of the Jewel Changi, a 144,000-square-foot addition to the international airport that will feature a terraced forest, shopping, and one very big waterfall.
Safdie worked with the engineers at BuroHappold Engineering to craft the gridded glass facade, which funnels inward like a doughnut. At the center of the glassy ceiling is a large waterfall designed with the help of WET engineers—the Rain Vortex—that pours water at 10,000 gallons a minute from seven stories above. During Singapore’s notorious thunderstorms, the water feature will capture rainfall and recirculate it through the Vortex.
But what’s a waterfall without a rainforest? Surrounding the Vortex are stepped terraces designed by PWP Landscape Architecture that are filled with more than 200 species of plants. Visitors can walk through the garden, relax in tree nets, or get lost in a hedge maze (a hedge maze!). The Singapore airport’s already cool amenities just got more tricked out.