The new Apple store is located in Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. The structure is a 15-meter-high entirely transparent glazed box. Customers can browse iPads and make an appointment with a genius under a glowing ceiling. The custom-made lighted ceiling panels are also designed to dampen sound. The store also features a cantilevered floor and glass staircases. Floating glass staircases on either side of the store are held in place by embedded bolts.
The main area inside the store features a nine-meter-high space where the upper floor projects 12 meters from the rear wall. The open expanse is meant to create “a sense of space and calm,” according to the architects. “This gives the impression of a floating stage in the center of the space – a new living room for the city.”
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The facade is composed of 11 giant panels, fitted together like an enormous glass wall. Foster + Partners’ Apple store is not just delightful to look at, however. It’s also smartly designed, with mechanically controlled blinds that offer shade when necessary, and can be concealed within the ceiling.
Foster + Partners took over the design of Apple’s stores in 2013. The first Apple store in China under the firm’s eye opened in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan Province, in early January. The West Lake store followed two weeks later.
The West Lake Apple store shows off high-tech engineering that you don’t see everyday, especially when you’re shopping for a new smart phone. The cantilevered floor was made almost impossibly thin, thanks to the use of mass dampers, which are harmonic absorbers that reduce the amplitude of mechanical vibrations. The dampers made it possible for the floor to taper from 1.2 meters to just 10 centimeters.
Images via Nigel Young, Foster + Partners