Five fascinating facts that you may not know about Terminal 4

Aug 2022

By Kris Mok


Back to Changi Journeys


Terminal 4 (T4) will be resuming operations from 13 September 2022, following a more than two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Ahead of this resumption, Changi Journeys unveils five fascinating facts about T4 that you may not be aware of.


1. Orchid petal motif permeates the terminal

The orchid petal motif can be seen throughout T4’s design, from the skylights on the ceiling to the carpet patterns on the terminal floor


For the very first time in the history of Changi’s terminal design, the designers decided to adopt the orchid petal motif as the main design feature throughout the terminal, from the pattern of the carpet and tiles on the floor, all the way to the skylights on the ceiling. Even the trash bins in T4 were designed in the shape of the orchid petal motif.  

Together with the use of various shades of purple as the main colour scheme, this became the unique design feature of T4, giving character to the terminal and paying tribute to Singapore’s national flower at the same time. 


2. Gliding from kerbside to aircraft

T4 was the first terminal at Changi to offer a fully automated departure experience, from check-in and bag-drop, to immigration clearance and boarding 


To minimise queues at T4, Changi Airport Group (CAG) introduced a brand new end-to-end Fast And Seamless Travel (FAST) system back in 2017, which enabled passengers to virtually glide from the kerbside to aircraft. 

To achieve this automated process without compromising security, facial recognition technology is used at key departure touch points, from bag-drop, to immigration and boarding. This meant that every passenger’s face is the ‘token’ which gets them through the checkpoints.

Smooth implementation of this new self-service concept did not come easy, as the features could only be implemented with the authorities’ backing of the airport’s drive towards innovation. At the same time, this has to be premised upon CAG’s assurance of an equivalent, if not superior, security outcome.

Through close collaboration with the authorities every step of the way, from design stage to working out system interaction and testing the final product, T4 became the very first terminal at Changi where passengers can literally glide through the terminal without interacting with a single service staff, unless they want to.


3. Innovative design and build technique

Employing the hat-first method, this paved the way for the early installation of the baggage handling systems, which helped to accelerate the construction of T4


In a typical construction process, building works start from the bottom and progress upwards. However, due to the tight timeline for T4, as well as the time needed to install, test and trial the baggage handling system, which was right in the centre of the building, the main contractor Takenaka Corporation proposed a ‘hat-first’ method, that is, to build T4 roof-first, and for construction to progress outwards from the centre. This innovative method allowed construction work to go on concurrently while detailed design for the structure was being fine-tuned.

Furthermore, as ‘live’ airport operations could not be interrupted, installations such as the new pedestrian link bridge over Airport Boulevard connecting to T4 could only be done during specific hours at night, over many nights. This meant that the schedule of workers, building components and machines had to be coordinated with clockwork precision, so that airport operations at Changi remained smooth for travellers.


4. Experiencing theatre in a terminal

The Heritage Zone in T4 is designed to ‘wow’ travellers by creating ‘a sense of place’, to give them a taste of Singapore even without stepping out of the terminal


Keeping the passenger at the heart of every design detail, T4’s concept and design broke away from the norm, by incorporating local elements instead of keeping to the more international look and feel like the other terminals.

At the Heritage Zone located before the boarding gates, the space was designed to leave a lasting impression of Singapore on travellers just before they depart the country. The façade of nine archetypal shophouses of Singapore in this zone chronologically depicted the architectural evolution of an integral facet of Singapore culture. That’s not all – for those who linger in this space long enough, a surprise awaits. Two of the shophouse façades actually masquerade as a 10m-wide digital screen, where two musical love stories unfold periodically, designed to delight passengers just before they board their flights.


5. The art of perfection

Les Oiseaux (The Birds) artwork at T4 departure hall, seen at sunset


As the final testament to the commitment that has gone into touching hearts at T4, the terminal incorporated many pieces of artwork from both local and international artists, to give passengers an all-round positive experience at T4. 


The birds getting a clean-up before they greet travellers again on 13 September


Besides Les Oiseaux, a group of three birds visible from both T4’s departure and arrival hall, other notable artworks include the Petalclouds, a kinetic sculpture which blends lights with music into a heady concoction rounded off with delicate movements, and Hey, Ah Chek!, a bronze sculpture by Cultural Medallion winner Chong Fah Cheong, which doubles up as an interactive photo spot as visitors can sit on the trishaw.

So the next time when you catch a flight from T4, hopefully, these nuggets of information will help you to appreciate your whole travel experience better.

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