FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The new 125,000m2 development for Changi airport in Singapore is located at the heart of the airport complex and serves to connect the airport’s ensemble of terminals and existing structures. Its location, behind the original control tower is positioned between Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and a short distance from the MRT station.
UNStudio’s design for the new complex offers a blend of nature and mall, with unique attractions that additionally provide a destination for the residents of Singapore. The new structure accommodates food & beverage areas, garden activities, retail areas, lounges and a cineplex and movie themed attraction. The three main components - Attraction, Aviation and Retail are merged to form one programme and are weaved together throughout the building. The garden attraction forms the main thread within the design and is a theme of all the activities in the building.
The overall design for the structure reacts to the existing surroundings, with two large North and South facades with integrated glazed gardens that enable views from and towards the interior. The East-West mainly opaque shell with external roof gardens protects a large part of the volume from solar gain by following the strongest sun path orientation.
The first, mostly opaque, layer of the double-layered facade provides the weather barrier to the building. In this wall openings are provided where programmes may benefit from views and daylight. The second layer is built-up with a permeable lattice pattern. The pattern is a tessellation of hexagonal units that follow the same design principles but are applied with a varying rotation, thereby creating a non-directional pattern. Further variation is provided through different degrees of openness of the units. These variations are used to make a gradual transition between the solid North and South frames into the more open area in the centre of the pattern. Within the shell itself, the openings are distributed in such a way to allow daylight penetration and views, while maximising shading in the areas where this is required. On the opaque surfaces, the depth of the façade will expose the linear shadows cast by the sun adding a subtle Moiré effect to the whole skin.
At sunrise and sunset, the double layered skin comes further alive with a subtle colour lighting scheme. The lighting is placed between the two layers to avoid any disturbance to the surroundings or interference with air traffic and as such illuminates mainly the coloured inner layer.
In the design for the new complex, spatial organisation is the main device used to create a relaxed and intuitive sense of orientation when entering, using and exiting the building. The location and design of the main architectural elements – entrances, vertical and horizontal circulation and feature gardens – also play an important role in the way-finding strategy.
The connections to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 are made through bridges that connect tangentially to the new building, which is shaped in such a way as to integrate the existing Skytrain bridges. From all terminals, the shape of the new building guides the visitors towards its entrances. Upon entering the building the visitor has a clear overview of the organisation of the building, identifying at one glance the eventual exit and final destination across the building, the circulation arrangements through the escalator voids, and the essence of the building by instantly experiencing the gardens, which are repeated at the end of the escalators on each level.
UNStudio’s design for the new complex seeks to extend its programme beyond a high-quality shopping and dining experience within convenient aviation facilities. Its ambition is to embody and represent the natural richness of Singapore by including an abundance of garden scapes that are integrated as refreshing spaces for rest, play, reflection and enjoyment. The emphasis on the gardens is not merely green packaging to a functional building, but an integral part of its organisation and logic. The gardens form not only an aesthetical addition to the spaces but are a guiding factor, benefiting and upgrading all other components and uses and creating a unified attraction across all levels, the interior and the exterior.
The visitor will be able to eat, relax, stroll, and shop in the gardens. These gardens cascade along the exterior of the North and South façades and extend towards the interior galleries and corridors. At each level the gardens become a reference point at the extremes of the corridors but are also a device for improving the comfort of the visitors by providing shading and filtering the air. Additionally, a series of external gardens around and on top of the building, and on its facade, further integrates the building into its surroundings.
With the garden concept, nature becomes the ubiquitous theme of the building, as it is in Singapore. The new complex is a high-performance building targeting low consumption energy levels and high standards of comfort.