Singapore Changi airport: The shape of water


Ike Ijeh looks at the challenges of constructing the world’s tallest indoor waterfall

Singapore Changi airport has been voted the best airport in the world for seven consecutive years by certified aviation rankings body Skytrax. But now there is a new attraction for Changi’s 65 million annual passengers to savour: the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

The 40m-tall waterfall cascades through a seven-storey atrium from an opening in the roof of the Jewel, a new £1bn retail, leisure and entertainment complex designed by US- and Asia-based Safdie Architects, with Buro Happold as engineer. Built on a former car park on the landside half of the airport, the 135,700m² destination is linked to three of the airport’s passenger terminals and contains shops, restaurants, a hotel and covered gardens within an internal, terraced forest setting.

Singapore has watery form – it is already home to what is now the world’s second-tallest indoor waterfall in the Wilkinson Eyre-designed Gardens by the Bay conservatories.

The Jewel’s waterfall, known as the Rain Vortex, pumps more than one million litres of water from the roof of the building down to the ground floor every half an hour and offers spectacular light shows hourly each evening. But in engineering terms, the real marvel is the extraordinary grid-shell structure that encloses it.

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