WHAT sort of traveller are you? Are you the type who likes to head to the airport early so that you can spend some time leisurely sipping your cup of coffee before boarding? Or are you the sort who’d pace your time so that you can board immediately after checking in? Or do you enjoy spending time exploring a new airport?
If you’re a frequent traveller, you’ll know that the airport is a great place for discovering new experiences. It’s not only the gateway to embark to a new city, the airport is also a communal space for people from all over the world to meet and communicate.
The travel experience is enhanced from one airport to the next, which is why it’s crucial for airports around the world to create a memorable experience for travellers during their brief stop.
Travellers to Singapore’s new Changi Airport Terminal 4 (T4) are in for an exciting experience with the new terminal’s culture-centric boutique design and technology-driven innovations.
Passengers travelling through and visiting T4 get to enjoy a visually immersive and theatrical experience with specially curated art and entertainment features by local and international artistes.
“With T4, we want to create a memorable travel experience for our passengers, from the facilities and services, to the environment and the visual elements within — especially in locations with higher footfall and longer dwell times. The collection of art and entertainment formats in the new terminal was commissioned to be accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and it’s a diverse blend of mediums, sizes and imagery that etches an inspiring first and last impression of their journey through T4,” explains Poh Li San, Changi Airport Group’s vice president.
The new T4 also presents an opportunity for Changi Airport to permanently showcase Singapore’s local culture and flavour to international passengers. In its pursuit to augment a holistic travel experience, a personalised local narrative is adopted to create an introduction to the island’s rich and colourful heritage.
Inspired by the national flower of Singapore — the orchid — the new terminal’s interior design takes shape from its symmetrical petal design. As a symbol of national pride and identity, the choice of the orchid as a starting point is a clever one. The project is led by the prestigious SAA Architects Pte Ltd in collaboration with UK-based award-winning international architecture firm Benoy Ltd.
Passing through the large open interiors, it becomes apparent that nature-inspired leitmotifs are the design de rigueur, appearing in various locations within T4, such as on the petal-shaped skylights, ceiling lights, marble flooring and carpets, creating a cohesive design language.
In a more literal interpretation, green elements are also introduced into the design scheme in the garden relaxation areas, tree-lined lounges and vertical green walls to add a warm charm to its boutique feel.
Skylights and glass walls also allow natural light in. T4 not only provides a natural daytime ambience for passengers, it also stimulates a natural environment for plants and trees.
In the terminal itself, the landscaping covers 2,000 square metres. Home to 186 large trees, a 160 ficus trees form a “green” boulevard along the boarding corridor, separating the boarding area from the common space at the departure gates.
At the heart of T4 is a grand-scale kinetic sculpture — Petalclouds. Spanning over 200 metres across the Central Galleria, the installation discreetly separates the public and transit area. Petalclouds, visible from almost anywhere in the terminal, captivates as it moves gracefully to classic music specially composed by Bafta award-winning composer Olafur Amalds.
“This unique kinetic sculpture combines art and technology to create a harmonic, collective choreography of six identical ‘petal clouds’ resulting in a fascinating and continuous interplay of form, animated light and reflections,” reveals Poh.
Depicting clouds that are moving slowly through the horizon, the design also takes inspiration from orchid petals found throughout the terminal’s architecture and design.
T4 is also home to three physical art sculptures, all depicting a common theme — of travel or aviation. Singaporean sculptor Chong Fah Cheng created Hey Ah Chek! which can be seen at the departure check-in hall. The artwork shows a mother and her son hailing a trishaw after a visit to the market. Hands full with their baskets of fresh produce, the scene is a nostalgic one, evoking memories of life back in the 1950s.
Swiss artist Kurt Metzler captures the feelings of excitement and energy he felt with his family by a transit experience in New York and later at Changi Airport in his sculpture, Travelling Family.
In the arrival and departure halls, French artist Cedric Le Borgne has created Les Oiseaux (The Birds). The three bird sculptures are made from a collection of 3D-wire luminous characters that metaphorically represent the different emotions one tends to feel at an airport.
Each piece, shares Poh, was conceptualised and designed with careful consideration as to how it would enhance the terminal’s design and architecture, “wearing in a narrative that converges art and travel.”
PLAY ON HERITAGE
As one of the busiest transit hubs in the world, Changi airport is the best place to present visitors with a slice of Singapore.
The Heritage Zone in the transit area offers a glimpse into the evolution of shophouse architecture from the 1880s to the 1950s, including the rich and colourful Peranakan heritage often seen in the likes of Singapore’s Katong and Chinatown areas.
Combining local context and technology, a 10m x 6m LED screen transforms two shophouse bays into a digital theatre stage. Here, passengers get to enjoy a special six-minute cultural mini-theatre show, Peranakan Love Story.
Narrating the story of an unlikely romance between two passionate musician-neighbours set in 1930s Singapore, the musical sans dialogue is a collaboration with renowned Singaporean composer and artiste Dick Lee.
In addition to Peranakan Love Story, travellers can enjoy an immersive experience at the least expected location — the centralised security screening area just after immigration.
Displaying compelling imagery on Singapore’s skyline and Asean landmarks, the 70m x 5m Immersive Wall also screens a whimsical animated clip on suitcases being scanned before flight.
CREATING NEW EXPERIENCES
With a total floor area of 225,000 square metres, T4 is just half the size of
The opening of T4 is said to be a teaser to the highly anticipated upcoming Changi Airport Terminal 5, which will very likely be the third largest terminal on the planet after Dubai and Beijing.
The new terminal, says Poh, will be the first in Changi Airport to offer end-to-end Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) for departing passengers. Reorganising passenger flow system and the building’s overall design, the new space also includes a 23-metre-high central atrium to create an increased visual transparency throughout the terminal in addition to improving shopping and F&B experience at the airside.
“T4 was conceived with the vision to rethink travel, push boundaries and break new ground. Through innovative concepts of operation and terminal design, we sought to address our capacity needs as well as improve efficiency and manpower productivity,” continues Poh.
T4 has been designed to make the airport visit, however brief, a delightful experience. Fun, vibrant and full of surprises, you might actually rue the call for boarding!