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Moshe Safdie Creates Spectacular Bio Dome for Singapore Airport

Matt Shaw Matt Shaw

Moshe Safdie is famous for his iconic Montreal housing complex Habitat ’67, and he is still creating innovative large-scale urban projects around the world to this day. That is evident in the latest project his firm, Safdie Architects, has debuted: the design for a huge new development at Singapore’s Changi Airport. The scheme, to be called Jewel Changi Airport, aims to turn the airport into a public gathering space with gardens, retail stores, hotel, restaurants, and entertainment that will lure travelers, airport employees, and local residents. The air hub is the sixth busiest international airport in the world, with a traffic of more than 53.7 million passengers in 2013.

Aerial view of Jewel Changi Airport.

The airport’s “Forest Valley.”

Safdie’s plan has a number of features that make it both spectacular and striking. First, there is the glass dome itself, which will encompass a space of 134,000 square meters and looks like a science fiction daydream come true. Within the structure, a 130-foot-high waterfall called “Rain Vortex” will tumble continuously and at night be the backdrop for a sound and light show. The space itself showcases natural elements: walking trails travel through an indoor topography of trees, palms, and ferns called “Forest Valley” and crafted by Safdie Architects working with PWP Landscape Architecture. The different elements — dining, accommodations, and retail — are spread throughout the structure so as to give each of them impressive views of the natural features. The waterfall emerges from an oculus at the top of the glass dome.

The airport’s “Jewel gardens.”

Level 5 Canopy Park plan.

The dome’s curved shape, recalling the tradition of glass conservatories, provides inherent structural strength to the glass and steel structure. Tree-like structural columns in a ring support the dome while a suspended roof covers the adjacent atrium space. The existing terminals will be linked to Jewel by pedestrian bridges. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2014, and Jewel is scheduled for completion at the end of 2018.

Entry into the Forest Valley.

A view of Jewel Changi at dusk.

A cross-section showing Jewel Changi’s retail and garden levels.

All images via Jewel Changi Airport Devt.