KPF and Heatherwick Studio reimagine the airport as a social space.
Ambitious plans for the new Changi Airport Terminal 5 development were revealed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his annual National Day Rally address on 21 August 2022.
Designed by KPF and Heatherwick Studio, the plans for Changi Terminal 5 reach far beyond the core needs of transport infrastructure and imagine the space as a social extension of the city itself. Located within its namesake district of Changi, at the eastern end of Singapore, T5 will add capacity for about 50 million passengers per year to one of the most celebrated international airports on the planet.
Commenting on this ‘airport as a city’ concept, Thomas Heatherwick said:
“Our intention is to redefine what an airport terminal can be. Most airports aren’t great places to spend time but Changi has always been different. Rather than making a single vast monolith on the outskirts of a city for the exclusive use of travellers, our plan is to create a social space that people living in the city are excited to visit.
“We want to break away from the typical airport experience that you find remorselessly copied around the world and instead offer a human and homely collection of spaces filled with activity and daylight for travellers and Singaporeans alike.”
The design team’s concept sees the new terminal as a series of neighbourhoods and an intuitive extension of Singapore itself. Instead of a single monotonous roof under which people are efficiently processed, the terminal is comprised of a series of human-scale social spaces. They range from the small and intimate to large and expansive clearings. Each area is a destination with its own distinct character offering different qualities of light, atmosphere and experience, making even the most functional parts of the airport extraordinary.
Consistently voted the world’s best airport for passenger experience, Changi Airport has seen air traffic increase rapidly since the last quarter of 2021. Passenger numbers reached 55% of the pre-pandemic levels in July 2022.
KPF and Heatherwick Studio were selected to design the new terminal in 2018. Changi T5 will be Heatherwick Studio’s third project in Singapore following the Nanyang University Learning Hub, a building designed to encourage spontaneous dialogue and exchange in the digital learning era and EDEN, an apartment building in the historic Newton District of Singapore.