The Vertebrae, Singapore

People’s Choice Award in Fentress Global Challenge 2020, Future Airport Design Competition

Biophilic Airport as Extensive Channel of Singapore’s Aviation

‘Garden City’ is the profound vision of Singapore which successfully shaping the country into a world-leading green city, existing as renowned top economy hub and tourism destination on the global stage. Upon the ever-changing urbanism, the next step of realizing the green ideology of Singapore is focusing on hedonistic sustainability and resiliency formed on a more humane basis.

Rapid growth of Singapore into a populous and high-dense metropolis, the country is facing increasingly urged issue in land scarcity. In contrary to this tendency, the traditional airport takes a vast footprint. In response to that, land reclamation is widely used as methodology of expanding functional land in Singapore. However, the conventional reclamation imposes subversive environmental impacts to the marine ecosystem as well as the mining site. In the meantime, the current Changi Airport was also built on land reclamation ironically.

On the other hand, Singapore as a low-lying island is threatened by sea level rises, causing the current reclamation method considered even less sustainable as greater amount of landfill is required. This immediate risk encounters tremendous challenge to Singapore’s context over time, especially in the endeavor to strive for collective sustainability and resiliency. Departing from this context, the design poses question: “What if the future airport archetype could be a channel embodies the biophilic nature and gives incremental values to its function as well as experience?”

As the proliferation demand of travelling and global commerce ascends, airport is signified as representative capital for the green vision of Singapore. The new airport traces the linear form of existing Changi Airport, forming a channel encompasses linear park extending to the coastal area. Combining the notion of ship hull cavity as buoyant platform and ‘biorock’ footing structure, the airport is designed as a floating terminal with effortless structure and minimal footprint on sea, without damaging the environment. Accompanied with mechanical technologies like high-speed trams, shipment tracks, booster runways and delivery drone system, the linear morphology provides an efficient and pragmatic mechanism within a compact spine.

In overall, the design conception is contemplated from a biophilic approach in correspondence to Singapore’s context and future vision. Being a part of the sustainable utopia, the airport is re-envisioned to be an epitome translating the green ideology into reality, amplifying the national identity through its civic role. Above all, the project manifests an intrinsic perspective within this evolutionary movement, which is inclusive of people, nature, architecture and mobility- integrate and complement each other to form the backbone of the city, ‘The Vertebrae’.

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