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'As majestic as Jewel': Digital waterfall, garden with 100 plant species refresh Changi Airport T2

'As majestic as Jewel': Digital waterfall, garden with 100 plant species refresh Changi Airport T2
The centrepiece of the departure hall — the digital waterfall display The Wonderfall — stands at 14m tall and 17m wide.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE — Travellers can immerse themselves in a towering multimedia digital waterfall display that is four storeys high and a landscaped garden at the upgraded Changi Airport Terminal 2 (T2), which fully reopened on Wednesday (Nov 1) ahead of schedule.

The centrepiece of the departure hall — digital waterfall display The Wonderfall — stands at 14m high and 17m wide, airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG) said on Wednesday.

Nestled in a vertical garden, the large multimedia wall features a "waterfall" cascading over large boulders.

Every half-hour, a four-minute musical show will be screened across its 892-tile screen, with original music composed by Canadian pianist Jean-Michel Blais, CAG said.

In the departure transit area after immigration sits Dreamscape, a new garden that combines digital content, plants and fish.

Set against the backdrop of a digital "sky" ceiling emulating real-time weather conditions outside the terminal, Dreamscape features more than 20,000 plants from 100 species, some of which are not commonly found in Singapore, noted CAG.

The garden also has a fish pond that passengers can stride across on a transparent platform, amid audio recordings of more than 100 calls of birds, insects and other creatures.

With T2's reopening after its expansion, which was originally set for completion in 2024, the terminal's handling capacity has climbed from 23 million to 28 million passengers a year. This takes Changi Airport's overall yearly capacity to 90 million passengers.

In terms of handling capacity, T2 is now the largest of the airport's four terminals after undergoing 3½ years of engineering and expansion works. This has added more than 21,000 sq m — the size of about three football fields — to T2.

CAG said some areas of the departure hall were expanded to provide more seating and walking space. Spaces within the transit area were also enlarged to provide more room for retail offerings.

Shut for upgrading in May 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, T2 reopened in phases from 2022.

Key touch points, such as arrival immigration and baggage claim belts in the terminal's southern wing, reopened in May 2022. Operations resumed at the departure hall in October that same year, to serve more passengers after international border controls eased as the pandemic receded.

The terminal's northern wing started serving passengers on Sept 28 ahead of its full reopening on Wednesday.

The revamped terminal serves 16 airlines that connect travellers to 40 cities. The carriers operating there include Singapore Airlines and German flag carrier Lufthansa.

There are new retail options at the upgraded T2, including the first South-east Asia pop-up of collectible merchandise store Funko, said CAG.

Also new is Lotte Duty-Free Wines and Spirits — equipped with a robot bartender and a liquor-tasting lounge — in the transit area. In the departure hall, Australian artisanal cafe Jones The Grocer has a deli-style food counter on its ground level, with a bar and restaurant slated to open later in 2023 on its second level.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony at T2 on Wednesday, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean noted CAG's efforts in pushing ahead with the terminal's expansion despite the uncertainties of the pandemic.

Looking ahead, he spoke about the importance of capturing the region's growth in air travel, citing the resumption of work on Terminal 5, which will add 50 million passengers to Changi Airport's yearly capacity by the mid-2030s.

Innovation is integral, said Mr Teo, and the airport is rolling out new digital solutions, such as T2's baggage-handling system that can track individual bags in real time and minimise mishandling. He also pointed to the need to decarbonise Singapore's aviation industry.

"Changi will always be an integral part of the Singapore story, not only because of its economic importance, but also for the spirit of daring and drive that it represents," said Mr Teo.

T2 now houses 100 automated check-in kiosks and bag-drop machines — nearly double the number before the expansion — as well as a new automated early luggage storage system. This system can stow up to 2,400 bags that are checked in early before they are loaded onto departing aircraft, said CAG.

The terminal is also the first at the airport to have automated special assistance lanes for people with disabilities and families with young children at both its arrival and departure immigration halls.

CAG declined to reveal the cost of the terminal's expansion, citing commercial sensitivities.

Visitors who spoke to The Straits Times welcomed the new features.

Dr Dragana Palacek, a researcher from Serbia, said she appreciated the blend of nature and technology at Dreamscape.

As a first-time visitor to Singapore, the 28-year-old found the garden "mesmerising" because it incorporated nature into architecture, like many skyscrapers here that are fitted with rooftop gardens and vertical green walls.

The Wonderfall came as a surprise to Singaporean Joanna Tan, 35, who was unaware that T2 was undergoing a revamp.

The hospitality manager said the digital waterfall display elevated the terminal's look, making it as majestic as Jewel, the retail and entertainment complex at the airport.

As at September, passenger traffic at Changi Airport was at about 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with nearly 10 million passengers passing through T2 since May 2022, said CAG.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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