apple has opened its largest store in japan, in close proximity to tokyo’s main inter-city rail terminal. located in the 1973 mitsubishi building, ‘apple marunouchi’ is the result of a close collaboration between apple’s teams, led by sir jonathan ive, and the integrated engineering and design teams at foster + partners. the design is inspired by the expressed structural grid of the building, with cast aluminum vitrines blending the store’s interior and exterior. ‘I love the simplicity of the space,’ says ive, who, in june, announced that he will leave the company this year. ‘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.’
all images © nigel young / foster + partners
nestled within tokyo’s central district, close to one of the city’s most famous parks — the emperor’s palace — the store occupies an important urban site. visitors alighting at the station have a direct view of the store from across the road. the structure of the mitsubishi building offered foster + partners the opportunity to install a series of two-storey ‘vitrines’ that provide apple with a distinctive showcase. designed to enhance the existing row of perimeter columns that envelop the store, the vitrines are made from aluminum that has been specially cast to create rounded corners.
internally, local bamboo has been planted in the vitrines to add life and greenery. access to the store’s upper level is via a sculptural staircase located to the right of the entrance, which was assembled on site. clad with white-painted aluminum and featuring terrazzo treads, the staircase blends in with the light-filled interior. meanwhile, the ceilings are clad with white ash timber that adds a sense of warmth to the space.
‘we wanted to create a restrained presence amid the bustle of tokyo,’ explains stefan behling, head of studio, foster + partners. ‘the beautifully crafted aluminum 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.’
earlier this week, apple revealed a host of new technology, including three new iPhones, at its autumn keynote event in cupertino. headlining the raft of new products are iPhone 11 pro and iPhone 11 pro max, devices that apple is calling ‘the most powerful and advanced smartphones ever’. read more about the news on designboom here.
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