Apple Orchard Road salutes Singapore’s past

Singapore’s official ranking as the greenest city in Asia informed the design of Apple Orchard Road, the first Apple flagship in Southeast Asia, reports online architectural magazine Dezeen.

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British architecture and integrated design studio Foster + Partners has made trees the most prominent feature of the building, echoing other Apple Stores it has designed, particularly in Dubai and London.

There are eight mature trees at the entrance of the Singapore store and a further 12 ficus trees inside.

“This is one of our greenest Apple spaces yet,” says architect Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners.
He refers not only to the trees, but also an array of sustainable technologies integrated into the building, which derives all its energy from renewable sources.

“It breaks down the boundaries between the inside and outside, with the greenery cascading through the store from the mezzanine to the ground floor and out on to Orchard Road, creating the most welcoming civic gesture,” says Behling.

In line with the Apple Store aesthetic, it features a minimal facade of glass 36.5m wide, sheltered by a slender cantilevered canopy to offer protection from Singapore’s tropical showers.

Orchard tribute

In front of the facade, eight trees frame a public square at the entrance. The aim was to create a green orchard that pays tribute to the fruit and nutmeg trees that once occupied the area.

Inside, the two-storey space is framed by walls of Italian Castagna stone, integrating the two hand-carved spiral staircases. The architects describe these as “warm and beautifully sculpted bookends” offering “an homage to craftsmanship and materiality”.

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Ficus trees feature on both levels, in the same doughnut-shaped pots seen in previous stores, but most can be found on the mezzanine. Called the Genius Grove, rather than the Genius Bar, this space is the largest of its kind in any Apple Store worldwide. It is slightly set back from the facade behind a simple glass balustrade, creating a double-height atrium below.

Other features of the store include Apple’s widest video screen, housed in a space called The Forum. The aim is for this to become a meeting place for the city’s creative community.

Norman Foster’s firm has established itself as the architect of choice for Apple. While it was not involved in Apple’s original store designs, it came up with interior features first showcased at the Apple Union Square store in San Francisco.

It is also behind the design of Apple Park, the brand’s new ring-shaped headquarters in Cupertino, California.

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