Sunday, 7 December 2014

Changi Airport's Project Jewel: Not just another mall

Complex is meant to be the iconic centrepiece for Singapore air hub
By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 6 Dec 2014

WHAT started as an urgent but mundane need to expand Terminal 1 will now end in a Jewel - Changi Airport's hoped-for iconic centrepiece to wow travellers and enhance the air hub's attractiveness when completed by 2018.

Merely to expand the terminal would have been a wasted opportunity, said the chief executive officer of Changi Airport Group, Mr Lee Seow Hiang, at the ground-breaking for the retail cum airport complex yesterday.

"To address the capacity bottleneck, we could have just pushed out T1 and built a multi-storey carpark over it. But we felt we could do so much more. We had a chance, for the first time, to hub the three terminals together."

And so the decision was made to raze T1's open-air carpark and construct in its place a five-storey-high complex with five basement levels which would link all three passenger terminals.

T1 would also be upgraded and expanded in the $1.7 billion project.

Explaining at length, for the first time, the rationale and thinking behind the project, Mr Lee, who is also chairman of Jewel Changi Airport Development, a joint venture between Changi Airport Group and CapitaMalls Asia, admitted questions had been asked about the project.

Was this a vanity showpiece? In the light of manpower constraints in Singapore, why build another retail mall? Was the airport getting distracted from its core business of aviation?

"This question of purpose is not a trivial one," he said, stressing that the first driving force behind the project was the growing capacity constraints at T1.

Having decided that the terminal must expand and more should be done with the piece of land, the decision was made to build a complex with close to 70 per cent of the total gross floor area of about 134,000 sq m set aside for retail with about 300 shops.

Yes, Singapore has about 150 malls but many serve local communities with only a handful that are strong enough to capture the attention of tourists, Mr Lee said.

Jewel, which will be funded and operated by the new joint venture firm with CapitaMalls Asia, plans to be different, he said, though the retail mix has not been finalised.

Throwing his weight behind the project, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who was the chief guest at yesterday's event, said: "We are operating in a dynamic and increasingly competitive environment. Passengers today are spoilt for choice as air hubs around the world actively pursue new ways to boost their appeal as destinations and as transit points."

Jetstar Asia's chief executive officer Bara Pasupathi agreed, noting the development of Jewel would "better serve the sophisticated taste of travellers in the region".

Renowned architect Moshe Safdie, 76, the man behind Marina Bay Sands who is leading the design team for Jewel, has big dreams for the project.

Mr Safdie, who also attended the ground-breaking, said: "I would like to think that in four years, people outside Singapore will say to their friends, 'When you go to Singapore and land at Changi, don't dare to leave the airport before you visit Jewel'. Or better still, perhaps say 'You must fly to Singapore or travel to Singapore because you've got to see that Jewel'."

* Changi's Jewel shaping up well for sparkling start in 2019

Special glass facade, indoor waterfall among highlights of $1.7 billion icon to boost airport's leading air hub status
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 21 Mar 2017

The construction of a future Jewel at Changi has reached the halfway mark, putting the airport on track to build an icon that aims to make Singapore a more attractive air hub and destination.

When completed, Jewel Changi Airport will glitter with more than 9,600 pieces of glass, specially made in the United States, that will frame its facade.

At the site, in front of Terminal 1, work was in full swing when The Straits Times visited last week - the first exclusive preview since construction started in 2014.

The facade and works inside will be completed by the fourth quarter of next year, in time for an early 2019 opening, said project head Ashith Alva. The five-storey, mainly commercial development with five basement floors will house about 300 shops and food and beverage outlets.

Highlights include a 40m indoor waterfall and a five-storey garden with about 2,500 trees and 100,000 shrubs from countries including Brazil, Australia, Thailand and the US.

Directly connected to T1, Jewel will be linked to the other two terminals via air-conditioned bridges with travelators.

At $1.7 billion, the project is a considerable investment for Changi Airport Group, which owns 51 per cent of Jewel Changi Airport Development, with the remaining stake held by CapitaLand Mall Asia.

The airport, however, sees it as a necessary cost to stay ahead in the race for premier air hub status.

Ms Hung Jean, chief executive of Jewel Changi Airport Development, said: "A key vision for Jewel is to be a world-class lifestyle destination that will be a game changer for Changi Airport amid intensifying competition on the global airport landscape."

This will "significantly augment Changi Airport's status as a leading international air hub, drawing international travellers to Changi Airport and Singapore", she said.

While the jury is still out on whether Jewel will make Singapore a more attractive destination for visitors, or lure travellers who would otherwise have connected at other airports, experts agree it will please those who do come.

Singapore Management University's Assistant Professor Terence Fan, who specialises in transport issues, said Jewel should appeal to a growing number of transit travellers, who account for about a third of Changi's total traffic.

He said: "Passengers with two hours or less between flights would normally stay within the sterile zone close to boarding gates while those with longer layovers, like more than 10 hours, are more likely to unwind and rest in a hotel.

"For those in between, the hassle of going into town may not be worth it, but they can also do some serious shopping and walking around.

"Jewel would be great to cater to this group of travellers, especially the elderly and those with young children who may not be so inclined to take a cab and walk about outside of a temperature-controlled environment."

It is important for an airport to set itself apart from its rivals and this is what Jewel aims to do, said Mr Ramanathan Mohandas, head of the diploma programme in aviation management at Republic Polytechnic.

"This investment in infrastructure and facilities is to offer a distinctive experience to the travelling public, which will help Changi stay ahead of the competition," he said.

** Jewel Changi Airport on track for 2019 opening; facade works to be completed by June 2018
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 19 Apr 2018

Major works at Jewel Changi Airport to install more than 9,000 pieces of glass - each weighing up to 300kg - will be completed by June.

The facade of the 10-storey mainly commercial Jewel development is made up of more than 9,000 pieces of specially manufactured glass, close to 18,000 pieces of steel beams and over 6,000 steel nodes.

A series of tests and research were conducted to ascertain that the glare emitted off Jewel's surface will not interfere with the daily operations of the air traffic controllers since Changi Airport's air traffic control tower is situated right next to Jewel.

The entire study, engineering and shortlisting of the glass material took two years to complete.

Jewel's head of projects Ashith Alva said: "We work very closely with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Changi Airport Group and other regulators to ensure that all our works are within accepted regulations and specifications. This is to ensure that airport operations are not affected."

With 75 per cent of the overall construction completed, the facility is on track for an opening next year, said a spokesman for Jewel Changi Airport (Jewel) - a joint venture between Changi Airport Group (CAG) and CapitaLand - during a media preview yesterday.

Mr Ashith said that working on the facade was a complex endeavour as no single piece had the same dimensions and specifications.

Meticulous execution is also required as the glass panels are transported from the ground level to the top of the facade for the roof installation.

It takes up to 20 minutes to install each glass piece, he said, adding that about 50 to 70 can be fixed in a day.

At any one time, there are about 2,000 workers on site, Mr Ashith said.

The glass panels are able to transmit light for the landscaping in Jewel to thrive, and reduce heat to ensure sustainable cooling of the complex's interior.

To ensure that noise levels of the aircraft are kept to a minimum in the building, the glass panels are designed to have an air gap of 16mm to serve as insulation against the noise emitted.

The 10-storey Jewel, with five basement floors, will house about 300 shops and food and beverage outlets.

Highlights include a 40m-high indoor waterfall and a five-storey garden with 2,500 trees and 100,000 shrubs from countries such as Brazil, Australia, Thailand and the United States.

Connected directly to Terminal 1, Jewel will be linked to Terminals 2 and 3 via air-conditioned bridges with travelators.

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