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Apple store Macau by Foster + Partners is a mindful tech haven

Foster + Partners designs the new Apple Store in Macau, which features bamboo planters cascading up the central lantern. Photography: © Nigel Young/Foster + Partners.
Foster + Partners designs the new Apple Store in Macau, which features bamboo planters cascading up the central lantern. Photography: © Nigel Young/Foster + Partners.

Apple has unveiled its new flagship store in gaming capital Macau. Designed as ‘an oasis of calm’ by Foster + Partners and Apple’s in-house team headed up by chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple Cotai Central aims to offer a meditative complement to the buzz and excitement of Macau – a city monikered ‘the Las Vegas of Asia’.

Set within a quiet, bamboo-strewn plaza, the store is a geometrical masterclass; the near-perfect cube bares the exact spatial inverse of the plaza. Blending outside and in, bamboo has been plucked from the external forest and placed in an internal grove that penetrates 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.

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Cubic light wells are reinforced by smaller lights, greeted by dense bamboo plantings

‘We wanted to create something very simple and pure – a beautiful and elegant building that complements the sounds, sights and colours of Macau, while embodying a sense of clarity and quietude,’ explains 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 material palette remains consistent with the now engrained global Apple store aesthetic – think great swathes of glass, grey stone, concrete – while continuing Foster + Partners commitment to making each store unique, and specific to its locality. Apple Cotai Central diverts through its use of a new form of ‘translucent stone’, which spans the facade. The first-of-its-kind glass-stone-composite comprises five layers of glass integrated with incredibly thin stone layers, which gives the building its distinctive stained glass-like materiality. It shines warmly at night; a meditative beacon against the skyful of flashing lights.

The new store continues Apple’s mission to make its stores cultural, civic spaces, as opposed to mere vessels for product purchasing. As with the Chicago flagship that opened in 2017, surprisingly little square footage is dedicated to actually buying things. Instead, the generous central atrium and balmy external grove offer a mindful meeting place that fits with the late Steve Jobs’ raison d’etre for Apple Retail: ‘to enrich lives.’

A natural stone staircase brings visitors to the second retail level, accompanied by a glowing Apple logo

Cube-like in its dimensions, the central retail space is flanked by a pair of stone staircases

The exterior façade features a glass-stone composite curtain wall, framed by bamboo plantings

Inside, the glass-stone composite curtain wall filters natural sunlight into the space

Lush vegetation permeates the space

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