Located amid the Marunouchi business district, across the historic Tokyo Station, the Apple Marunouchi is the latest and largest Apple retail store to open in Japan till date. As soon as the visitors come out of the railway station, they get a clear and direct view of the new building from across the road. The store has been designed by teams from Apple - led by Sir Jonathan Ive, chief design officer - in close collaboration with integrated engineering and design teams at British architectural and design firm, Foster + Partners. The Apple retail store opened to public on September 7, 2019.
The store is situated in the 1973 Mitsubishi Building, and embodies its structural grid in a delicate, minimal fashion. It seems to encapsulate an honest and green materiality, with its sleek vitrines (a glass display), and its gentle usage of bamboo. The high-rise Mitsubishi Building nudges a subtle narrative into the design and aesthetic of the Apple store, apparent in its modern and linear facades.
Talking about the building, Sir Jonathan Ive said, “I love the simplicity of the space. There is an honesty in terms of how the structure of the building, the green bamboo, and the transparent vitrines all come together to form a light-filled volume that is full of life.”
The exterior of the building exudes a subtle and definite essence, with two-storey vitrine windows lining the façades. This extrinsic detail sets the building apart from the gridded structures it is surrounded with, yet blends in with them astutely. The vitrines are made from aluminium, specifically cast to obtain three-dimensional, smooth and rounded corners, a first of its kind. Local bamboo lines the insides of the window openings, infusing life and greenery into the store’s interiors. Creating and adding onto the intrigue that the store delivers, the spandrel on the upper levels of the store have mirrored panels on them, which reflect the vibrant street life outside and the planted bamboo inside.
We wanted to create a restrained presence amid the bustle of Tokyo. The beautifully crafted aluminium vitrines define the boundary of the store and Apple’s presence, offering everyone walking by a glimpse into the store. The structural grid gives the entire volume a certain rhythm, while the calm interior is enhanced by the bamboo that lines the perimeter. – Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners
A white, sculptural staircase at the right side of the entrance provides access to the upper floor. Assembled on site, this staircase coalesces with the light-filled interiors because of its white-painted, cladded aluminium handrail, and its treads fashioned with terrazzo. The insides of the store feature even more spaciousness and warmth, as the ceiling is covered with white ash timber. To blend in with the interiors, the building is rendered in white plaster, incorporating a traditional Japanese technique.
At the Apple Marunouchi, customers can get access to the latest Apple products, and technical assistance from Creative Pros (person who guides, instructs within an Apple store). At the far end of the space is the Forum screen, a large video wall, situated within the double heighted space; this atrium takes up most of the store’s centre, and links both levels of the store, in addition to providing clear, visual connectivity.
The clever way in which the store respects its location with its design, yet stands out imperceptibly, is expressive of Apple’s brand and visual. The Apple Marunouchi by Foster + Partners inhabits an important urban position in its placement within the central district of Marunouchi, near the famous Emperor’s Palace park and the Tokyo Station in proximity. The capacious and open structure of the Apple store displays disciplined design and sleek aesthetics through its vitrines and incorporation of a minimal colour palette, seamlessly becoming part of Tokyo, a vibrant and bustling city.
Project DetailsName of the project: Apple Marunouchi
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Year of completion: 2019
Architect: Foster + Partners, in collaboration with Apple’s design team led by Sir Jonathan Ive