Apple Dubai Mall opens with “one of the world’s largest kinetic art installations”

Foster + Partners was responsible for the design of the new Apple Dubai Mall store, which opened on 27 April and claims to be “reinventing the traditional introverted idea of mall-based retail as a more outward looking experience that engages with the spectacle of urban life”.

The studio reckons the design is a “highly innovative” response to the culture and climate of the Emirates, while also demonstrating “Apple’s pioneering ambition to create inspirational civic spaces for all”.

Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners said: “The design of Apple 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. I am sure Apple Dubai Mall will become a true people’s place.” Assuming of course that the people want to shop at Apple.

❝ Apple Dubai Mall will become a true people’s place ❞

The new Apple store in Dubai Mall spans two floors, with a sweeping 57 x 5.5m terrace that delivers terrific views of the Dubai Fountain. But the design feature of note is a reinterpretation of the traditional Arabic mashrabiya lattice in the form of the so-called ‘Solar Wings’ that shade the terrace during the day and open up during the evening.

These panels were made locally from lightweight carbon fibre reinforced polymer rods – 340 of them in each wing, layered to form a net that is denser in the areas of most intense solar radiation. The pattern allows clear views out for people standing on both levels of the store, and the sunlight streaming through the wings casts dappled shadows deep into the interior.

With their movement path inspired by a falcon spreading its wings, the 18 motorised Solar Wings are in itself a theatrical experience – “an integrated vision of kinetic art and engineering,” as the PR blurb puts it.

“The opening and closing of these majestic Solar Wings is analogous to a delicate ballet recital – but on a monumental scale,” said Behling. “In some ways it is 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 new shaded terrace features nine substantial trees within large planters incorporating seating for visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the view. The planters will rotate mechanically to ensure that the trees receive even sunlight.

Apple Dubai Mall also launches a new in-store experience for Apple globally, ‘Today at Apple’ – where Creative Pros (a counterpart to Apple’s technical ‘Geniuses’) will offer individual advice and training on photography, filmmaking, art and design and more.

The first Friday saw street artist Myneandyours creating original art using an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil; Artist Duos (artists and musicians come together) that kicked off with Noush Like Sploosh working live to the music of Carl & The Reda Mafia; and a photo walk on ‘capturing the Dubai Fountain’ with an iPhone.

❝ We view our stores as a modern-day town square ❞

Today at Apple will reportedly offer more than 60 different programme sessions in creative skills, including Studio Hours (which actually run for 90 minutes, on topics from art and design to documents and presentations); Photo Walks (see above) and Sketch Walks; Kids Hour (coding with Sphero robots and the iPad beginners’ app Swift Playgrounds, making music with GarageBand, making movies with iMovie); Photo Labs and Music Labs for those with some experience; and a Pro Series on Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X. It seems that most (maybe all) sessions will be free though preregistration will be required.

“We view our stores as a modern-day town square, where visitors come to shop, be inspired, learn or connect with others in their community,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior VP for Retail. “And what better place to come together than overlooking Dubai’s epicenter, where the Dubai Fountain, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall meet. We are so honored to have a home at one of the world’s most incredible and dynamic intersections.”

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