T4's 'clouds', installations a play of art and technology

Changi Airport's Terminal 4 (T4) has a new moving art sculpture that calls to mind Terminal 1's Kinetic Rain installation.

Petalclouds, an aluminium installation, stretches 200m and can be seen from almost anywhere in the futuristic T4.

The moving sculpture by German-based Art+Com - the same design firm behind the Kinetic Rain aluminium droplets in Terminal 1 - comprises six "clouds", each consisting of 16 petal-shaped aluminium frames suspended from wires in motion. These have been choreographed to form various patterns, accompanied by classical music composed by Bafta award-winner Olafur Arnalds.

Petalclouds is one of several installations in Terminal 4 which tap technology and typify its push to become Changi Airport's "flagship terminal for innovation".

Mr Jayson Goh, managing director of Changi Airport Group's airport operations management, said the art features in the terminal were to help "distract passengers from the pace of the airport" and create a less stressful environment.

Said Ms Poh Li San, vice-president of Changi Airport Group's T4 programme management office: "T4 was conceived with the vision to rethink travel, push boundaries and break new ground. Through innovative concepts of operation and terminal design, we sought to address our capacity needs as well as improve efficiency and manpower productivity."

While there is no physical safety net for Petalclouds' petals - each weighing 40kg - Ms Poh said passengers need not worry about their safety. The moving petals grind to a halt immediately when the system detects a deviation from normal movement, and there are a number of cables supporting each petal, she said.

Petalclouds, a vast kinetic installation, can be seen from almost anywhere in Changi Airport's Terminal 4.
Petalclouds, a vast kinetic installation, can be seen from almost anywhere in Changi Airport's Terminal 4. ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW


The orchid petal is a ubiquitous motif in T4, appearing in the Petalclouds installation, and on carpets, skylights and even dustbins.

Ms Poh said that owing to space limitations, the airport adopted "a boutique approach" in its interior design, aimed at creating "a cosy, comfortable space".

She added: "We want the terminal to be not just modern and functional, but one that is fun and uplifts (passengers') moods."

While transparent glass walls make the terminal seem more spacious, technology also does the trick: LED screens disguised as murals and shophouse facades later expand into panoramas and roomy interiors. The centralised security screening area has a 70m by 5m LED screen - called the Immersive Wall - that starts out as what appears to be a convincing wood carving mural, before it goes on to display Singapore's skyline, Asean landmarks and a whimsical animation of how baggage is sorted.

The transit area's heritage zone features a row of Peranakan "shophouses" from the 1880s to 1950s.

Two of them conceal a 10m by 6m LED screen that doubles as a digital theatre stage for a six-minute "musical" by veteran composer Dick Lee. Peranakan Love Story, which has no audible dialogue, tells the story of a romance between two musician-neighbours who fall in love.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'T4's 'clouds', installations a play of art and technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe