Foster + Partners design new earthquake proof Apple store in Beijing

The open and inviting Apple Sanlitun, with a glazed façade and integrated solar array in a retail store, brings structural stability and social vibrancy to the neighbourhood.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Aug 06, 2020

American multinational technology company Apple recently opened its new store in Beijing, replacing its first store in China. The new building designed by Foster + Partners is located on the site adjacent to the previous, and shares a renewed social focus for the Sanlitun district.

The urban Sanlitun district enlivened by the new Apple store | Apple Store in Beijing by Fosters + Partners| STIRworld
The urban Sanlitun district enlivened by the new Apple store Image Credit: Chaoying Yang

Apple’s new store, which is almost twice the size of the original, aims to bring centricity to the vibrant urban quarter, and initiate a dialogue with the surrounding pedestrian streets on a busy public square in Sanlitun, a shopping and entertainment district. The design is a close collaboration between the team at Apple and the integrated engineering and design teams at Foster + Partners.

Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners, described the project saying, “Apple Sanlitun is all about being open and inviting – visually, physically and metaphorically. The store is a grand place that connects the inside and the outside”.

The Apple store creates a connect with nature along its perimeter | Apple Store in Beijing by Fosters + Partners| STIRworld
The Apple store creates a connect with nature along its perimeter Image Credit: Apple Inc.

For a city like Beijing, which is considered a ‘high-prone’ area for earthquakes, the store features a unique structural system that has been used for the first time in China. A special truss moment frame (STMF) that effectively resists seismic forces has been employed to further allow large column-free interior spaces. Tuned mass dampers reduce excessive vibration in the cantilevered upper level and buckling restrained braced frames (BRBF) minimise the structural impact on the existing basement. These vast spaces allow for a minimal and obstruction-free appearance, as can be found in most of the Apple stores across the world, thus keeping in tune with the company’s vision.

The staircase with a monolithic appearance | Apple Store in Beijing by Fosters + Partners| STIRworld
The staircase with a monolithic appearance Image Credit: Chaoying Yang

The building by Fosters + Partners offers openness through its clear glazed façade and draws from the vibrant energy of the area. Apple Sanlitun has a porous building envelope that opens out onto all four sides and connects to the multi-layered circulation network. Due to the welcoming character of the building, the central square floods the display areas inside with natural light. Two eye-catching stone staircases on either side of the store lead up to the Genius Grove on the upper level. The perimeter, lined with trees, creates a strong connect with the outdoors and nature while the glazed façade to the rear allows light into the space and dissolves the boundary between the inside and the outside.

The structural system with a new earthquake resistant technology | Apple Store in Beijing by Fosters + Partners| STIRworld
The structural system with a new earthquake resistant technology Image Credit: Chaoying Yang

The Forum, one of the latest retail design features in Apple stores, is situated within the grand upper level and forms an animated backdrop to the space. This space will be used to host some of the Beijing’s artists, musicians and creatives to showcase their processes. Also created on the grand upper level is the Viewing Gallery, which has an integrated upholstered leather seating area to enjoy the lively public square outside. The store is protected by a large overhanging roof that provides shelter from the heavy rain and intense summer sun. The 390 sqm of integrated rooftop photovoltaic panels partially offset the energy consumption of the store, making it an energy-aware design and building.

The new store hopes to set a new standard for Apple retail in China as it brings vibrancy, structural stability and a social binding to the neighbourhood while representing the company’s vision and intent.

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