In Pics: A first look at Changi Airport’s high-tech, swanky Terminal 4

Photo: Raphael Koh
Photo: Raphael Koh

Story and photos by Raphael Koh


The wait to get a first look at Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 is just less than two weeks away, but registration is full and now closed ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). For those of you who missed the registration or just wanna sneak a peek into the new building, we’ve got your back, fam. 

Changi Airport Terminal 4


Terminal 4 is set to be fully operational by year end, and it’s currently undergoing rigorous testing of the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) system, which will significantly cut time to check-in and get on board flights. Nine airlines will operate in T4, and they’ll offer close to 800 flights a week to over 20 regional destinations.

Changi Airport Terminal 4


Built on the southern end of Changi Airport, T4 is a two-storey, 25m-high building with a gross floor area of 225,000 sqm (about 27 football pitches) sitting on the former Budget Terminal. Despite being half the size of Terminal 3, it is expected to handle up to 16 million passengers annually, which is about 70 percent of the capacity that T3 deals with each year.


T4 has that boutique feel, being a compact terminal. The crowning showpiece is a 300m long x 18m wide x 23m high Central Galleria separating the public and transit areas. Drawing inspiration from the orchid flower, the symmetrical petal motif is ubiquitous throughout the building, appearing on skylights, marble flooring, carpets, air-conditioners and even dustbins holders.


The FAST system will offer a fully automated departure process in T4 — a first in aviation to be heavily reliant on technology in screening and verification processes. New features include the automation of check-in kiosks, bag drop and self-tagging areas, immigration gates and boarding gates.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking of it all is the use of state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to authenticate passengers’ identities, which removes the reliance on manual identity verification by staff. All facilities in T4 have been ergonomically designed with the elderly and children in mind as well. However, the world has yet to come up with a fool-proof solution to prevent babies from bawling loudly during flights.


T4 houses several art pieces – Petalclouds, a kinetic installation, is similar to the Kinetic Raindrops installation at Terminal 1, with its very own sonata to complement the movements. It’s located at the Central Galleria, hanging above the arrival hall, and can be spotted when you move in between the public and transit areas.


The other remarkable installation is titled Les Oiseaux (The Birds) by Cedric Le Borgne — it’s located at the public area in front of the entrance of the arrival and departure halls. Consisting of three bird sculptures made with stainless steel wires — two in mid-air and one perched on the ground — it lights up to create a visual treat for visitors.


Other amenities include an integrated duty-free zone, double volume facades and a heritage zone inspired by heritage shophouses nestled around the island — a reflection of Singapore’s multicultural diversity. This area is complemented by yet another LED display, disguised among the shophouse decorations, and features a 10-minute play starring local names like Benjamin Kheng and Koh Cheng Mun, with music composed by Dick Lee.


BONUS: The toilets are spectacular as well. The interiors are heritage-themed, with inspiration also taken from the intricate detailing of shophouses.

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