SINGAPORE - Work on Changi Airport's "Jewel" project and the expansion of Terminal 1 has started.
The project, which was earlier announced to cost $1.47 billion, will now cost $1.7 billion.
It will be built in front of the terminal where an open-air carpark now sits, the retail-cum-airport structure will have five floors above ground with five basement levels.
When it is completed by 2018, travellers and visitors can expect to be wowed by a 40m-high indoor waterfall - expected to be the tallest of its kind in the world. The waterfall will feature a light and sound show with special lighting effects at night.
A five-storey high indoor garden will contain thousands of trees, plants, ferns and shrubs, said Jewel Changi Airport Trustee - a joint venture between Changi Airport Group and CapitaMalls Asia - on Friday.
Designed by a team led by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, 76, - the man behind Singapore's other architectural gem, the iconic Marina Bay Sands - the new structure will be linked to T2 and T3 via air-conditioned pedestrian bridges.
Close to 70 per cent of "Jewel's" total gross floor area of about 134,000 sq m will be set aside for retail. Also being planned is a 130-room hotel.
The remaining space is reserved for airport facilities like passenger lounges and check-in counters.
To sell Singapore as a fly-cruise hub, the complex will house a dedicated lounge where travellers who arrive at the airport, for example, can pick up their cruise boarding passes and check in their bags.
As part of the upgrading of T1, the arrival hall and baggage claim area will be expanded, and the check-in area revamped to offer travellers more self-service options like do-it-yourself check in.
Ground transport facilities will be improved to add more lanes for drivers to drop off their passengers.
Changi Airport Group's chief executive officer, Lee Seow Hiang, who is also chairman of Jewel Changi Airport Development, said at Jewel's ground-breaking ceremony on Friday afternoon: "An important hallmark of Changi Airport's growth over the past thirty-odd years has been continual change and innovation. In charting the airport's future, this spirit continues to underpin our strategy.
"Faced with intensifying competition, we challenged ourselves to rethink what an airport can be - not just as a gateway for flights but as a tourism destination on its own."
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said at the event: "We are operating in a dynamic and increasingly competitive environment. Passengers today are spoilt for choice as air hubs around the world actively pursue new ways to boost their appeal as destinations and as transit points."