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Jewel Changi Airport waterfall is actually off-centre

Who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Zhangxin Zheng | April 16, 05:49 pm

Jewel Changi Airport news have cluttered up your news feed, no?

Well, here’s another snappy piece with a compilation of trivia in the form of 17 questions and answers about Jewel to impress your parents, grandparents and friends with as you all appreciate this architectural feat and lifestyle destination when you do get there.

1. How big is the entire Jewel?

135,700 sqm floor area and at a height of 37m.

Trivial fact: Jewel is occupying the area that used to be the outdoor car park of Terminal 1.

Screenshots from CapitaLand YouTube footage.

2. How much did it cost to build Jewel?

S$1.7 billion.

3. How long did it take to build Jewel?

About five years since Changi Airport Group broke ground for Jewel in 2014.

4. Who designed Jewel Changi Airport?

Moshe Safdie. He is 80.


5. Who is Moshe Safdie?

Safdie is a world-renowned 80-year-old Israeli Canadian architect.

He also designed Marina Bay Sands and he rated Jewel Changi Airport as nine out of ten in terms of technical difficulty to build.

Photo courtesy of Moshe Safdie.

6. What’s so difficult about building Jewel?

The challenges lie in building the centrepiece of Jewel, which is the Forest Valley and Rain Vortex.

There are three main challenges.

1) Having an existing sky train track running across the forest with the waterfall
2) Jewel has to be below the radar of control station
3) Keeping temperature comfortable for both visitors and plants

Trivia: This is why Jewel Changi Airport looks more like a doughnut than a dome and the waterfall is slightly off-centre.

The torus (the top doughnut part) was initially designed to be symmetrical with the oculus (the vertical waterfall) in the middle.

But that resulted in the trains running in the centre line of the building getting a train wash.

Hence, the torus had to be built asymmetrically in order to accommodate the sky train which runs through the centre of the building.

Image courtesy of CAG.

7. How big is the indoor Shiseido Forest Valley?

22,000sqm.

8. How many plants are there in the forest?

There are 120 species of plants in the Forest Valley, 5 per cent of which are native species.

There are more than 2,000 trees and palms and over 100,000 shrubs.

This includes two olive trees from Spain, which are more than 100 years old.

Some of the native species are bird nest’s ferns, lipstick palm, mangrove fan palm, wild pepper plant.

It’s quite a pity that there are only 5 per cent of local species in such an iconic spot in Singapore.

Trivia: Safdie drew inspiration from the movie Avatar.

Photo taken by Zheng Zhangxin.

9. What does it take to maintain so many plants?

About 30 gardeners are involved in the maintenance of the forest.

They will visually check the plants every week, weed every fortnight, prune monthly, water and rinse off any dust on the plant surface.

The team has to ensure there is enough sunlight for the plants to grow well, which is why Jewel has a glass facade.

Trivia: The exterior of Jewel is made up of 9,000 pieces of specially manufactured glass, about 18,000 pieces of steel beams and more than 6,000 steel nodes.

10. Is the Shiseido Forest Valley cold?

The temperature is maintained at about 23 to 24°C, but this depends on how crowded it is on the day of the visit too.

Just bring a cardigan if you want.

11. How tall is the waterfall?

40m, down seven floors through the oculus of Jewel.

Trivia: The waterfall named as the HSBC Rain Vortex is the largest indoor waterfall in the world.

12. How much water is used for the waterfall?

500,000 litres, with 38,000 litres of water falling through the oculus each minute.

During wet weather, rainwater will also fall through the oculus as part of the waterfall.

Photo taken by Zheng Zhangxin.

The cascading water will slow down to 5,600 to 7,570 litres of water per minute during light and sound shows.

Trivia: There is a huge tank at basement three and another even bigger tank below.

Excess water will be drained or used for an irrigation system.

13. How do you keep the water of the HSBC Rain Vortex clear?

The pH of the cascading water is kept at 7.2 to 7.6 to avoid corrosion of the tanks.

Chemical is also automatically dispensed to prevent algae from growing in the water.

Strainers are used to filter dust and dirt out.

14. What time does the light-and-sound show start?

7:30pm to 12:30am daily at hourly intervals.

Here’s how it looks but definitely more stunning if you watch it live:

15. How many retail shops in total?

More than 280.

The retail highlight at Jewel is definitely the Pokemon Center.

However, there is actually a good range of outlets such as Foot Locker, Nike, Muji, Tokyu Hands and Uniqlo.

Some of these outlets are yuuuuge, much bigger than the other existing outlets in Singapore.

Muji at Jewel Changi Airport is 2 floors, has Muji cafe & completely free interior design service

16. What are the food and drinks that I should check out?

You’ll be spoilt for choices, so here are some recommendations:

Changi Jewel opens on April 17, 2019. Here are some of its exciting nom noms.

17. Is Jewel completely open?

No, but you can visit most parts of Jewel from April 17, 2019 onwards.

Quite a few attractions are still working in progress and this includes the Canopy Mazes, which look pretty amazing.

Image from CAG.

Stay tuned for new updates.

Top photo collage from photo by Zheng Zhangxin and photo from Mohshe Safdie

About Zhangxin Zheng

Zhangxin’s favourite pastime is singing Mulan’s soundtrack in the mangrove forests. She hopes to perfect the art of napping in a hammock in the mangroves without being drowned by rising sea levels.

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