Building the Jewel: A close-up look at the 9,000 pieces of glass used in Changi Airport's upcoming project

Building the Jewel: A close-up look at the 9,000 pieces of glass used in Changi Airport's upcoming project

Jewel Changi Airport, due to open in 2019, has entered its last lap towards completion. We take a behind-the-scenes peek at the installation process.

Changi Airport’s upcoming mixed development Jewel is rapidly taking shape, with the construction of the sparkling dome nearly complete at 75 per cent

SINGAPORE: Changi Airport’s upcoming mixed development Jewel is rapidly taking shape, with the construction of the sparkling dome nearly complete at 75 per cent.

Pulling into Airport Boulevard, the distinctive facade wrought of glass and steel glimmers in the sunlight; it is hard to miss Changi Airport's soon-to-be-crowned jewel with its dome of more than 9,000 pieces of specially manufactured glass.

Work on the facade, which commenced in 2016, is due to be completed by June. The project is on track for a 2019 opening.

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The entire Jewel facade is made up of more than 9,000 pieces of specially manufactured glass. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

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The installation process warrants precise coordination to ensure that each panel is fitted into the correct grid placement that it is planned for. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

Expected to weigh more than 6,000 tonnes when completed – equivalent to the weight of 10 Airbus A380 planes – the facade’s complex installation process has proven to be quite a feat.

This is due in part to the sheer number of components, as well as custom-made glass panels and steel nodes, "with no single piece having the same dimensions and specifications", according to Jewel Changi Airport.

Each piece of glass weighs between 250kg and 300kg.

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Inside the Jewel Changi Airport building that is roughly 75 per cent completed. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

Mr Ashith Alva, head of project design at Jewel Changi Airport, explained that given the unique geometry of each glass panel, the installation process warrants precise coordination to ensure that each custom-made panel is fitted into the correct grid placement that it is planned for.

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Mr Ashith Alva, Head of Project Design, explains the process behind the installation. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

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Workers consult a plan for Jewel Changi Airport's precise roof installation. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

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Workers use QR codes printed on the glass panels to cross check before the installation process. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

“To make sure we are getting the precision for the glass to be installed at its current location, we have QR codes. The installation manager can scan the code (on the glass) and from this, he will know exactly where it is to be located on site,” he said.

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Workers handle the glass shard before it is sent to the top for fitting. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)
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The glass panel on its way up to the roof. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)
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The installation requires meticulous execution as the panels are transferred from the ground level to the top of Jewel’s facade. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)
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A group of three to four abseilers stationed on the roof will receive the glass panel and fix it on the exact spot for installation. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

Given Jewel’s unique location at the airport, the glass panels were subjected to much study and scrutiny in the beginning stages, starting from the type of material.

To ensure that noise from aircraft is minimised, the glass panels were designed with an air gap of 16mm. This will serve as insulation from the noise emitted.

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A worker on the roof of Jewel Changi Airport. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

A series of tests and research was also conducted to ascertain that the glare from the building’s surface did not interfere with daily operations of air traffic controllers in the control tower next door.

"We looked at two factors quite closely - the impact on radar and the impact on glare. We worked with specialists over a period of two years to ensure these factors don't affect the surroundings," explained Mr Alva.

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Tests were conducted to ensure the glare emitted off the building’s surface did not interfere with daily operations of air traffic controllers in the control tower. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)
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Located in front of Changi Airport’s Terminal 1, Jewel will offer a range of facilities including airport services, indoor gardens and leisure attractions, retail and dining offerings, as well as a hotel when it opens in 2019.

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Workers taking a break while working onsite at Jewel Changi Airport. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

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A construction worker inside Jewel Changi Airport. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

Source: CNA/gc(aj)

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