The rain cascades through the oculus in the middle of a giant dorm. People walk up a spiraling forest, which’s trees keep changing colors with undulating lights. Among the living plants like palms, fig-trees, orchids, and anthurium, a robot glides on the floor to regulate the traffic. This scene isn’t from a science fiction movie, but a regular occurrence at Singapore’s Changi Airport. It’s no mystery why this axis of aviation has been named the best airport 10 times in the 20-year history of the World Airport Awards.
With its doughnut-shaped exterior framed in steel and glass, this futuristic airport is a masterpiece of the veteran architect Moshe Safdie. It’s not just an aviation hub, but a center for lifestyle and a mesmerizing tourist destination in its own right.
The following amenities make this marvel of modern architecture and engineering the most exceptional in the world. According to the New York Times, a few hours of layover time is probably not enough to experience all of these.
World’s Tallest Indoor Waterfall
The so-called “Rain Vortex” of Changi Jewel is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. It’s 40 meters tall and pumps 500,000 liters of rainwater through the roof of the world’s best airport. Surrounded by a walking path and a lush indoor forest, the Rain Vortex alone attracted thousands of non-flying visitors to the airport.
The waterfall also acts as a stage for dazzling light and sound shows. Seasonal surprises like Christmas or Disney-themed performances delight the younger passengers.
Five-story Rope Playground
While many innovative airports will have an area dedicated to entertaining the young passengers, Changi Jewel went the extra mile with its adult playground.
Chandelier, a five-story rope playground that resembles the structure of a DNA, is a rope playground that can have up to 50 people climb on the nets and fireman poles.
Free and open 24 hours, Chandelier also double-functions as a modernist art installation.
Colorful Peranakan Architecture
Eclectic and bold, with a Southeast Asian interpretation of baroque, the Peranakan architecture of Singapore reflects the nation’s cosmopolitan heritage. These colorful facades, which are often homes to traditional shophouses, are among Singapore’s most treasured tourist attractions.
The visitors of the Changi Jewel don’t need to leave the airport to see a newly-built version of these intricate facades. The world’s best airport has a shopping street featuring Perakanan shophouses. Through a short theatrical performance in this zone, visitors get a glimpse of life and love in Singapore in the 1930s.
Automated Immigration & Self-Boarding
In this airport, it’s not just the architecture and amenities that are futuristic, but also the very experience of travel itself.
Long queues for immigration and boarding are often the most daunting parts of international air travel. However, through high-tech entrance systems, Changi banishes the lines and humanizes the most taxing aspect of an airport visit.
As the New York Times posits, it might be difficult to say goodbye to Changi. In contrast to this, the physical aspect of leaving this aviation hub is the easiest: Passengers can scan their passports, go through a facial check, and offer their fingerprints for biometric information to proceed to their gates.