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Design focus: Apple's new store at The Dubai Mall

by Aidan Imanova on Jun 18, 2017

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The design of the Apple store at  The Dubai Mall is about “creating an exceptional architectural and social experience for visitors, bringing to the fore new ideas about the evolving role of Apple flagships in the community”, says Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners. “I’m sure Apple Dubai Mall will become a true people’s place.”

Spanning two floors, the design of the store is a celebration of the sun, adds Behling, with a kinetic solar wings installation used to shade the outdoor terrace during the day. Aiming to transform the traditionally introverted approach to mall-based retail into a more outward looking style, the new store hopes to engage with the surrounding urban life.

In addition to the sun, the design takes inspiration from Emirati culture, which can be seen in the solar wings, which re-interpret a traditional mashrabiya pattern. Motorised to open or close in under a minute, their movement is evocative of a falcon spreading its wings, says Behling.

“The opening and closing of the solar wings is analogous to a delicate ballet recital, but on a monumental scale,” Behling continues.

“In some ways, it’s a very spiritual experience, with the sun streaming through them and creating the most delicate and beautiful patterns of light and shade – a seamless blend of technology and culture.”

The installation is made entirely of lightweight carbon fibre – chosen for its resistance to oxidisation – and each wing has multiple layers of tubes forming a dense net.

The architects carried out an in-depth study of sun angles, resulting in the solar wings being thicker towards the middle in order to help resist wind loads. Their pattern allows sunlight to pierce through the wings and cast dappled shadows into the interior of the space.

The store’s shaded terrace features nine trees in large planters that, in addition to serving as outdoor seating, also rotate mechanically to ensure the trees each receive equal amounts of sunlight.

Accessed through full-height doors on both levels, directly from The Dubai Mall, the store also features The Avenue, an area designed for accessory display on the lower level, alongside 
Apple’s signature display tables, which  sit in the middle of a grove of trees.

Apple at The Dubai Mall will also launch the brand’s in-store experience, Today at Apple, which will involve New Creative Pros (the liberal-arts counterpart to Apple’s technical Geniuses) offering individual advice and training for customers in everything from photography and filmmaking to art and design.

Foster + Partners is also involved in other, larger-scale projects in Dubai, including the new Creative Community at Dubai Design District (D3), which will house the DIDI design school. The firm is also working on a luxury hotel and serviced apartments project in Saudi Arabia, which will be inspired by traditional Arabian design.