The 40-meter high Rain Vortex, which is the world's tallest indoor waterfall, is seen from inside Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore (Reuters/Feline Lim)
Singapore's Changi Airport on Wednesday opened a S$1.7 billion (about $1.26 billion) retail and nature-themed complex that aims to give it a competitive edge as an air hub in the region.
The 135,700 square meter, 10-story complex, named Jewel Changi Airport, offers 280 retail and food outlets as well as a hotel and is linked to Changi's Terminals 1, 2 and 3.
It is more than just a shopping mall as it houses the world's largest man-made indoor waterfall, surrounded by a lush artificially created rainforest to give shoppers a unique combination of both retail experience and leisure.
Standing 40 meters tall, the gigantic circular water feature has become the main attraction for visitors with its water plunging from a height of about seven stories from an oculus in the huge glass roof of the building. The climate around the waterfall is controlled to appear cool and misty.
The complex, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is aimed at turning the airport into a tourist destination and attracting more transit visitors.
Taking advantage of Singapore's abundant rainfall all-year round, the waterfall uses rainwater that has been funneled into it, with the water also diverted for irrigation of indoor plants.
Japanese firms have carved out a presence at the mall, with cosmetics giant Shiseido Co. having secured the naming rights for the indoor forest around the waterfall. Shiseido Forest Valley has more than 900 trees and palms and about 60,000 shrubs spread over a 4-storey incline.
Pokemon Center Singapore, the first shop outside Japan dedicated to selling merchandise related to the popular video game, is also there, in addition to fashion accessory maker Motherhouse Co. and lifestyle retailers Tokyu Hands Inc. and Ryohin Keikaku Co., provider of Muji brand products.
Sabrina Stefani, 33, who visited the complex during a pre-opening preview last week, described the expansion as breathtaking.
"Singapore is always trying to be in the forefront of technology and has its own definition for airports. This is not just an airport but is really like a masterpiece in architecture, and in greenery and landscape," she said.
Changi Airport was voted by air travelers as the world's best airport for the seventh consecutive year this year, with Tokyo's Haneda airport in second place and South Korea's Incheon International Airport coming third.
It is the world's seventh busiest airport for international traffic, with a record 65.6 million passengers passing through last year.