Make Changi Jewel a true gem

PHOTO: Make Changi Jewel a true gem

SINGAPORE - First, we have cookie-cutter shopping malls with the same shops and restaurants spreading across the island.

Now, it looks like we are going to have a replica of the Flower Dome at Changi airport with its upcoming Jewel project (Jewel At Changi Will Offer Travellers Stunning Welcome, ST, Aug 20).

Surely we can eschew garden-variety lifestyle and entertainment concepts, especially for the new airport hub.

The spokes at Terminals 1 to 5 are large enough to showcase a whole new world of retail, F&B, hospitality and perhaps facilities for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice).

Having more Louis Vuitton and Prada boutiques, Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets or a supermarket that is ubiquitous on this island will not differentiate our airport from those elsewhere, no matter how stunning the facade of Project Jewel may be.

The Jewel deserves to be much more than another Raffles City or Star Vista.

I hope the developers can draw some inspiration from the Frank Gehry-designed Atlantis - that brilliant and magical failed bid for the Sentosa integrated resort project by Kerzner International and CapitaLand.

Atlantis promised cutting-edge multimedia entertainment that seemed out of this world and could have been a huge fillip to Singapore's creative services industry and tourism sector.

Why not this new Jewel of our skies?

How about working with the likes of Swarovski, which has morphed from a jewellery company into an integrated lifestyle and cultural entertainment group, as attested by its wonderful museum, Kristallwelten in Austria?

Or how about partnering with Lucasfilm, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, the upcoming Singapore University of Technology and Design and other creative individuals and organisations?

Changi pioneered the concept of an airport as more than a dreary place to board and get off an airplane.

Project Jewel is an opportunity to launch this flight of fancy. It has the potential to be an excellent showcase for various sectors such as travel, leisure and entertainment.

It can be the airport equivalent of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, with an integrated resort based on an aviation, space-age or futuristic theme.

Should we decide to vote for a few more integrated resorts in 2017 - including, perhaps, a VIP- or foreigner-only casino such as those in Monte Carlo - Changi is ready to keep Singapore's tourism industry humming, as a growing number of regional cities seek to replicate the success of our integrated resorts.

Sylvester Toh

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