This is Apple Cotai Central which is the second Apple store to open in the Chinese district of Macau. This four year old Apple store has an extremely unique design, and stands in stark contrast to the company’s first and more traditional mall store in the region, Apple Galaxy Macau. Do you know what makes this store different from other Apple stores?
The architects, Foster and Partners, had an uphill task to create more meaningful spaces for the community and providing an alternative urban model and that too at the heart of the gaming and entertainment capital. Carved out of a densely planted bamboo forest, the plaza forms an oasis of tranquillity, an urban room that draws people into the site, creating pedestrian connections between the surrounding buildings for the first time.
The store is conceptualized as a ‘paper lantern’ that glows mysteriously which creates a magical experience for visitors entering the store as they are surrounded by glowing stone panels that shimmer throughout the day as the sun brings them to life, while at night the cube radiates a warm glow, contrasting against the bright lights of Macau. The first-of-its-kind glass-stone composite façade comprises five layers of glass integrated with incredibly thin layers of stone, which gives the building its distinctive materiality – appearing as translucent stone walls, akin to stained-glass. The structural frame is supported by just three corner columns wrapped in mirrored stainless-steel that reflect the patterns and colors of the façade, dematerializing the structure and blending seamlessly with the surrounding environment.
Another speciality of this store is its interior which is designed as the exact spatial inverse of the plaza, with a quiet bamboo grove carved from the forest outside and placed under the soaring central atrium. It is capped by a large central skylight with punched pyramidical apertures that brings natural light deep into the interior spaces. The ground level is wrapped in a glazed façade that looks onto a layered bamboo screen, providing a heightened sense of enclosure, while blurring the boundaries between the inside and outside. At the far end of the store is a 35-foot by 15-foot (10.6-meter by 4.5-meter) video wall. Adjacent to the video wall is an axial entrance from the adjacent retail areas and casino, drawing people to the interior.
Two grand stone staircases lead to the upper level, lit by skylight strips that bring in filtered natural light. Display tables are arranged around the central atrium looking onto the bamboo grove below. The composite glass-stone façade wraps around the entire upper level, creating a soft internalized environment that exudes a sense of calm and serenity. A second internal axial entrance on the upper level provides a spacious stepped connection from the mall. Arranged around a generous entrance atrium, it creates visual connections between both levels of the store.