A global contest to decide who will design Changi Airport's future Terminal 5 has kicked off, with a list of shortlisted firms expected soon.
The development is a significant milestone for the T5 project - Changi's biggest expansion to date - which has so far focused mainly on land preparation and other ground works.
The front runners for one of the most coveted architectural jobs in the industry are believed to include local firm DP Architects, which was part of the design team for the Esplanade and Singapore Flyer, and has tied up with British firm Grimshaw Architects for the T5 project.
Safdie Architects, which is led by the man who dreamed up the iconic Marina Bay Sands and designed Jewel Changi Airport, which is due to open in 2019, is also believed to be part of a team in the running, according to British publication The Architects' Journal.
The other top contender is likely a consortium that includes British firms Heatherwick Studio and engineering company AKT II, as well as American architecture company KPF.
DP Architects' chief executive officer Angelene Chan confirmed the partnership with Grimshaw, adding that the official shortlist has not been announced yet.
Spokesman for Changi Airport Group Ivan Tan told The Straits Times: "We have started the process of selecting our design partners for Terminal 5, and are working towards a shortlist of firms to have further discussions with. We will announce the shortlist when we are ready to do so."
Slated to open towards the end of the next decade, T5 will eventually be bigger than the existing three terminals combined.
It is being built in Changi East, which is separated from the current airport premises by Changi Coast Road, which will be realigned in the coming months. The process to pick the design consortium for T5 started late last year with a briefing held by Changi Airport at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, The Straits Times found out.
An architect, who was there but did not want to be named, said: "There was a huge turnout, as expected for a project of this scale and given Changi's sterling reputation. All the big global and local names in the business were there."
During the session, Changi shared its broad plans and timeframe for T5, he said, without elaborating further because all attendees had to sign a non-disclosure agreement at the end. Among those that are known to be in the running, Grimshaw Architects, in particular, has done several airport and transport-related projects. These include the expansion of London's Heathrow Airport and Zurich Airport, as well as the design for a new terminal at Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg, Russia.
When T5 is ready and with the opening of T4 later this year, Changi Airport will be able to eventually handle up to 135 million passengers a year, more than double the current capacity. The aim is to cement Singapore's status as a key hub for global flights, amid tough competition from rivals.