Inside the new Apple Macau store at Sands Cotai Central

The newly opened Apple Macau store has been designed to offer “a calm complement to the buzz and excitement of Macau,” says its creator, Foster + Partners.

“We wanted to create something very simple and pure – a beautiful and elegant building that complements the sounds, sights and colors of Macau, while embodying a sense of clarity and quietude,” explains Stefan Behling, head of studio at London-headquartered practice.

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“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 new store anchors the extension of the Sands Cotai Central retail space, which houses 25 stores. It opened last Friday.

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Technology, entertainment and arts come together in the new store, giving locals and tourists alike an inviting, contemplative space. Behling says its timeless design reinvigorates a corner of Cotai with a distinctive addition – a luminescent cube, whose pure geometry and warm ‘beacon-like’ glow draws passers-by closer, set within a quiet bamboo grove and an external plaza.

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Apple Cotai Central is conceptualised as a ‘paper lantern’ that glows mysteriously. Visitors entering the store are treated to a magical experience, 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 facade comprises five layers of glass integrated with wafer-thin layers of stone, which gives the building its distinctive materiality – appearing as translucent stone walls, akin to stained-glass, explains Behling.

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The structural frame is supported by just three corner columns wrapped in mirrored stainless-steel that reflect the patterns and colors of the facade, dematerialising the structure and blending seamlessly with the surrounding environment.

Inside, a quiet bamboo grove has been taken from the ‘forest’ outside and placed under a soaring central atrium. It is capped by a large central skylight with punched pyramidical apertures that brings natural light deep into the interior. The ground level is wrapped in a glazed facade that looks onto a layered bamboo screen, providing a heightened sense of enclosure, while blurring the boundaries between the inside and outside.

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At the far end of the store is a 10.6m by 4.5m video wall, alongside an entrance from the adjacent retail shopping mall and casino.

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 facade wraps around the entire upper level, creating what Behling describes as a soft internalised environment that exudes a sense of calm and serenity.

The Apple Macau store design is the result of a close collaboration between the Apple team led by chief design officer, Sir Jonathan Ive and Angela Ahrendts, senior VP of retail and online stores, and Foster + Partners.


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