Jewel Changi Airport

Singapore

The new mixed-use complex at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore aspires to deliver an exceptional experience for the 85 million passengers that will pass through it every year.

Occupying a site of approximately 1.4 million ft², this lifestyle destination combines luxury shopping, hotel and dining facilities within a global air travel hub.

Working with Safdie Architects, our team engineered the world’s largest gridshell to enclose a building. The innovative glass and steel roof structure spans more than 200 meters (650 feet) at its widest point, with only intermittent supports in the garden – the result is an interior that is almost column free. The 6,000 ton cover is made up of 9,304 dimensionally unique, triangular glass roof panels! 

Seamlessly integrating leisure and lifestyle attractions with state-of-the-art aviation facilities, the Jewel delivers an exceptional – and unforgettable – passenger experience. Image: Buro Happold

Challenge

Located on a site formally occupied by a car park, Project Jewel is situated opposite the airport’s existing Terminal 1 building. Buro Happold worked alongside the architects to provide structural and facade engineering consultancy to deliver the skin of this iconic structure. The outer shell of the building posed significant challenges in terms of structural behavior, geometrical complexity and constructability.

People walking through the lush gardens at Jewel Changi Airport
The Jewel is a place in which nature and the built environment coexist in perfect harmony, and visitors can meander through lush gardens that contain 2,500 trees and 100,000 shrubs from across the globe. Image: Buro Happold

Solution

By using the most advanced building information modeling (BIM) tools to optimize the design and working very closely with Safdie Architects, the engineering teams were able to rationalize and develop the design of the envelope to tender drawings. Key to this was Buro Happold’s experience and knowledge of detailing and construction technologies in long span applications. This created a design that was not only beautiful but also buildable and affordable.

Post tender Buro Happold continued to be involved as the client’s representative to ensure that the final project met with its aspirations and remained within budget and schedule.

Together [Jewel and Crystal Bridges] make up the crown jewel for some of our significant achievements in the last few years. Both have benefited immensely from your engineering skills and engineering courage! They are beautifully crafted so that the details contribute to the whole, and the whole to the details.

Moshe Safdie, Principal, Safdie Architects
View at night of Jewel Changi Airport's Rain Vortex illuminated by lights
Cascading down from an oculus in the glass domed roof, the 40m-tall Rain Vortex is the tallest indoor waterfall in the world and a magnificent centrepiece for the Jewel. Image: BHE

Value

Unique in its approach to realising an outstanding transport destination, Project Jewel reinforces Jewel Changi Airport’s position as the world’s ‘best’ airport, providing an exceptional experience for travellers as well as stunning architectural design.

The complex form of Project Jewel’s iconic outer shell was realized with the use of the most advanced BIM tools.

Cristobal Correa, principal, structures
View of trains crossing Rain Vortex inside Jewel Changi Airport
We used advanced BIM to optimise our design for the geometrically complex, contiguous steel and glass gridshell enclosure, which spans 200m at its longest, 150m at its widest, and weighs an impressive 4,000 tonnes. Image: Buro Happold

Video case study

Awards

2020

ArchDaily Building of the Year: Winner

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