The newly opened Apple Cotai Central, designed by Foster + Partners brings a timeless design in order to reinvigorate a corner of Cotai. The store offers a distinctive addition to the area with its luminescent cube, pure geometry and warm 'beacon-like' glow to draw passers-by closer, all set within a quiet bamboo grove and an external plaza.
The plaza forms an oasis of tranquility, an urban room that draws people into the site, creating pedestrian connections between the surrounding buildings for the first time
The design is the result of a close collaboration between the design team at Apple led by chief design officer, Sir Jonathan Ive and Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores and Foster + Partners.
Apple Cotai Central seeks to create space for the community and provide a new urban space within the Cotai area. The design makes a humble civic gesture with a large new event plaza in the foreground of the cube. Carved out of a densely planted bamboo forest, the plaza forms an oasis of tranquility, an urban room that draws people into the site, creating pedestrian connections between the surrounding buildings for the first time.
"We wanted to create something very simple and pure – a beautiful building that complements the sounds, sights and colours of Macau, while embodying a sense of clarity and quietude,” said Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “The design creates two distinct spaces, one inside and one outside, imbued with a sense of authentic beauty arising from the innovative use of natural materials."
The space was conceptualised as a 'paper lantern' that glows mysteriously. Visitors entering the store are surrounded by glowing stone panels that shimmer throughout the day from sunlight, 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 colours of the façade, dematerialising the structure and blending seamlessly with the surrounding environment.
The interior 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 (10.6m by 4.5m) video wall.
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 internalised 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.