Apple's retail stores have always been attractive places, but their newest store in at the West Lake shopping center in Hangzhou, China, is more than attractive: it's gorgeous. Nearly nine years after the opening of the iconic Fifth Avenue cube, the West Lake Store continues Apple's traditions of glass, steel,and light, but in a striking cantilevered design by Foster + Partners architects (the same firm behind the design of the enormous ring-shaped Apple Campus 2). The store is the largest Apple Store in China and opened late last month.
Every aspect of the store has been optimised, minimised and de-cluttered. The white ceiling, which appears as an opaque surface during the day, is dramatically illuminated at night – the custom-made lighting panels emit a pure, even glow, as well as absorbing noise.
The 15-metre-high volume creates a sense of space and calm within the busy store and city. It is divided horizontally by a dramatic cantilevered floor, which extends 12 metres from the rear wall like a diving board to create a 9-metre-high piano nobile. The extremely slim floor structure is only made possible by tuned mass dampers to eliminate vibration, and it tapers from 1.2 metres to just 10 centimetres. This gives the impression of a floating stage in the centre of the space – a new living room for the city.
Tucked on either side of that impressive cantilevered upper floor are a pair of glass stairs — the treads and the stringer (the vertical portion that runs perpendicular to the steps for the length of the stairs) are both made of sheets of laminated glass.