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Design showcase: Apple store in Macau

The latest Apple Store has opened in Macau, in China. Apple Cotai Central seeks to offer a calm space amid the buzz and excitement in the centre of Macau, where technology, entertainment and arts can come together in an inviting and contemplative space.

The design is the result of a collaboration between the design team at Apple - led by chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive and senior vice president of retail and online stores Angela Ahrendts - and architectural practice Foster + Partners.

The store takes the form of a giant luminescent cube, with a beacon-like glow attracting passers-by. The concept was inspired by traditional paper lanterns. It is set within a quiet bamboo grove and external plaza, a public space described as a ‘humble civic gesture.’ The plaza creates new pedestrian routes between surrounding buildings.

“We wanted to create something very simple and pure – a beautiful and elegant building that complements the sounds, lights and colours of Macau, while embodying a sense of clarity and quietude,” says Foster + Partners head of studio Stefan Behling. “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.”

On entering the store, visitors are surrounded by glowing stone panels that shimmer through the day with reflected sunlight.

A glass-stone composite façade comprises five layers of glass with incredibly thin layers of stone to give the building its distinctive appearance of having translucent stone walls. The structure is supported by three corner columns which are wrapped in mirrored stainless steel to reflect the colours and patterns of the façade.

The interior has been conceived as the spatial inverse of the exterior, with a central bamboo grove under a soaring atrium. A large skylight above brings natural light inside.

The ground level has a glazed façade looking onto a layered bamboo screen, to heighten the sense of a calm, enclosed space. A giant video wall is positioned at one end of the store.

Two grand stone staircases lead to the upper level, where display tables are arranged around the central atrium, giving views of the internal bamboo grove below.

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