Changi Airport Terminal 4 wows as a ‘Theatre of Experience’

Published on 25 July 2017

From kinetic art and commissioned sculptures to an immersive wall and heritage theatre-film show, Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 ups the ante on the arts experience to delight and surprise.

By Pamela Ho

People go to airports to catch flights. But Singapore’s Changi Airport has always been more than a transport hub. There is good reason why it’s been voted the world’s best airport for the fifth consecutive year by international air travellers: It never ceases to surprise with the unexpected. And its new Terminal 4 (T4) looks set to continue that trend!

Apart from the impressive fully-automated process from check-in to departure gate, T4 provides an immersive and entertaining experience for visitors. “T4 is a theatre of experience, and the art pieces within portray the vibrant, fun and positively surprising vibe of the terminal. It will appeal to not only those with an artistic eye, but also the young and young-at-heart,” says Poh Li San, Vice-President of T4 Programme Management Office, Changi Airport Group. “The works have been specially curated based on what they represent and how well they connect with their surroundings.”

Before T4 bares it all during its Open House (7 to 20 August), we give you a sneak peep into the arts and entertainment offerings at Changi’s newest and hippest terminal.


If you liked Kinetic Rain in Terminal 1, you’ll love this kinetic art installation even more! Designed to evoke the impression of clouds moving slowly in the sky, Petalclouds spans over 200 metres along the Central Galleria, and can be viewed from five different vantage points in both the public and transit areas! Each of the six clouds consists of 16 individual petal elements, and is a suspended sculpture that moves in a harmonic choreography with the others.

Trivia: The orchid petal is a motif you’ll find throughout the architecture and interior design of T4. Look out for it!


Photo: Changi Airport Group

No one will ever be bored again while waiting for their bags to be screened. You can’t possibly miss the 70m x 5m long Immersive Wall that spans the entire length of the Central Departure Security Screening area. Be entertained by two- to four-minute visual clips on the giant LED display created by Moment Factory (a Montreal-based multimedia entertainment studio). There are 17 different content capsules – our favourite is the whimsical animated clip of suitcases being screened!


Photo: Changi Airport Group

Located in the central area of T4’s Departure Transit is a family of sculptures created by Swiss artist Kurt Metzler. The inspiration behind Travelling Family can be pegged to a New York trip a few years ago, when Metzler sketched people in a departure transit hall to capture a moment. In 2009, he travelled with his family through Changi Airport, which rekindled that feeling. His observations are brought to life through these aluminium sculptures – which seem to both blend in and stand out!


Photo: Changi Airport Group

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the trishaw was a common mode of transport in Singapore. Drawing from personal memories, Singaporean pioneer sculptor Chong Fah Cheong created this bronze sculpture – Hey, Ah Chek! – to remember his trips to the market with his mother. With her arms full of fresh produce, she would hail a trishaw for the ride home. If the style looks familiar, Chong is the sculptor behind First Generation (2000), the bronze sculptures of five boys jumping into the Singapore River.


Photo: Changi Airport Group

Made with stainless steel wires, these 3D bird sculptures are said to be especially magical after the sun sets… Les Oiseaux by French artist Cedric Le Borgne captures the excitement and exploratory freedom of travel in his two birds in flight – you’ll see them at the Departure Hall. But there’s a third bird. Depicting homecoming, the grounded bird can be viewed when you exit the Arrival Hall a floor below. Simple and poetic, this vertical space encapsulates our feelings at the airport, doesn’t it?


Photo: Changi Airport Group

While Singapore is a curious mix of cultures, nothing captures the mix more profoundly than the Peranakan culture. The moment you enter the Heritage Zone, you’re greeted by an impressive façade which replicates the three-storey shophouses found in Katong or Chinatown. Look closely and you’ll notice the evolution of architectural styles: from Baroque (1880s) to Rococo (1910), Peranakan (1920s) to Modern Décor (1930s). The ‘ground floor’ houses local retail and F&B brands like Bee Cheng Hiang, Curry Times, Bengawan Solo and Heavenly Wang Café. The sights and smells!


Photo: Pamela Ho

Theatre meets technology at T4! The Peranakan Love Story at the Heritage Zone (created in collaboration with Singaporean singer-songwriter Dick Lee, and starring thespians Adrian Pang, Koh Chieng Mun, Amy Cheng and Benjamin Kheng) is a six-minute theatrical performance telling a love story set in 1930s Singapore. The façade of two shophouses – which is actually a 10m x 6m LED screen – transforms into a stage showing the living rooms of two Peranakan homes. The costumes and props are authentic, and will leave travellers with a lovely memory of Singapore’s rich heritage.

Photo: Pamela Ho

And although they may not be considered ‘works of art’ – at least not in the conventional sense – these automated housekeepers that move around, keeping T4 clean, will put a smile on your face. Dressed in yellow (just like the airport cleaning staff), they carry the most contented expression you’ll ever see on a janitor. We love the humour, Changi Airport!

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