Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 (T4) is a study in the design of user experiences. We all travel and fly, and airports are often one of the biggest pain points of the journey. T4 has transformed the airport experience by redesigning almost every aspect of the traveller’s interaction with staff, systems and processes.
This could only have been possible through meticulous research and stakeholder engagement. The design team’s ethnographic examination of the user journey and needs was almost forensic in its commitment to detail. Stakeholders, vendors and partners were extensively engaged on the team’s vision. The entire user journey was comprehensively stitched together—with impressive attention to its every aspect.
A key aspect of the systemic redesign of check-in, immigration and security processes is the use of technology with a heart. The automation of many functions, from cleaning to baggage check-in, has redesigned job scopes and noticeably freed up staff to interact meaningfully with travellers. High-stress moments at security screening are mitigated with clever placement of room-spanning video screens displaying content that soothes. Kinetic artwork and installations throughout the terminal provide moments of theatrical magic and virtual ballet.
The T4 team—a group of designers, maintenance staff and management united by a common goal—has broken new ground in transforming the airport experience with an underpinning philosophy of “making every single act better”. The result is something delightful, surprising and uplifting.
General Manager (Departure Experience)
Changi Airport Group
It is astounding the degree of detail that Changi Airport Group (CAG) has gone into to design and perfect T4. The airport epitomises Changi’s efforts in making itself a unique transportation hub that escapes the perfunctory to offer its guests new perspectives and inspiration. T4 has elevated air travel to one which brings unexpected surprises and creates lasting memories for its visitors and passengers.
The design of T4’s airport systems pushes the boundaries of airport processing. Its check-in, bag-drop, immigration and boarding are highly automated with state-of-the-art facial recognition systems to make the passengers’ journeys more seamless. To the airport community, the high level of automation also reduces the traditionally labour-intensive processing of passengers, permitting staff to do more value-added work and engage our passengers.
T4 demonstrates that function can co-exist seamlessly with form. Every space in the terminal—be it installation art, chairs and seating, immersive experience zones, check-in systems, landscaping, etc—was carefully curated to transform necessary airport processes and infrastructure to touchpoints that can delight and entertain passengers and visitors.
The airport also advances Singapore’s national branding, culture and heritage. Apart from the Peranakan shopfronts and immersive LED walls, the building is themed around our national flower, the orchid, which is scattered as petals along the walkway ceilings and enshrined in T4’s signature garden, Steel in Bloom. The building was also designed with many open social and community spaces for visitors and travellers to congregate, interact and exchange experiences.
Rarely does one encounter a building where design permeates each and every space; is customised to complement the activities that take place within; and is sensitive to its dwellers’ needs for safety, a sense of comfort and self-actualisation.