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From Apple Mac to Apple Mall: Foster + Partners in Dubai

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The opening of the new Apple Mall Dubai heralds Apple’s ’pioneering ambition to create inspirational civic spaces for all’ according to Foster + Partners

The project, another step in the tech company’s push into a branded form of urbanism – which is also seeing them develop a self-driving car system – sits on two floors adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, overlooking the choreographed water display of the Dubai Fountains on the 30-acre Burj Lake.

The mall features a 56.6m-wide, 5.5m-deep terrace, shaded by nine large trees set within planters that rotate mechanically to ensure the trees receive even sunlight. This terrace underlines the unusually outward-looking aspect of the mall, its design dubbed by Fosters ‘a celebration of the sun’. In a reinterpretation of the traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, the strong sunlight is carefully modulated by ‘solar wings’ which both gently shade the terrace during the day and open fully to the view in the evening. The 18 wings are each 11m tall and 3m wide, but weigh just one tonne due to being constructed of lightweight carbon fibre. Each wing has multiple layers of tubes forming a dense net, their patterning allowing clear views out from both levels of the store, while creating dappled shadows in the interior.


The mall includes a specially designed area for accessories display on the lower level, along with Apple’s display tables laid out the midst of a grove of trees, intended to create a calming environment. It also sees launch of Apple’s new ’global in-store experience’: ‘Today at Apple’, with ‘Creative Pros’, liberal arts counterparts to Apple’s technical ’Geniuses’, offering individual advice and training on photography, filmmaking, art, design and more.

© foster + partners 2272 fp615886

Architect’s view

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.

The opening and closing of the majestic solar wings is analogous to a delicate ballet recital – but on a monumental scale. 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.

Stefan Behling, head of studio, Foster + Partners

Project data

Start on site January 2016
Completion April 2017
Net internal area 2,538m²
Balcony area 302m²
 Apple Inc.
Architect Foster + Partners
Engineer Foster + Partners
Collaborating/local architect WSP Middle East 
Structural consultant WSP Middle East
Cost consultant AECOM
Mechanical engineer WSP Middle East
Acoustic consultant Sandy Brown
Screen mechanical consultant ARUP

Façade consultant Eckersley O’Callaghan
Glass engineering consultant Eckersley O’Callaghan
Main contractor Shell & core: Khansaheb / Fit-out: Deco Emirates 

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