If you thought that Apple’s Fifth Avenue Store in New York City was exciting with its giant towering glass cube, that’s old hat now as the company has just outdone itself with its first floating Apple Store.
To be clear, the classic New York location has been around for such a long time it’s hard to remember when it first opened. Steve Jobs actually opened the new store personally on May 19, 2006 — almost a year before the debut of the original iPhone. It was the 147th Apple Store at the time, and the first Apple retail location to be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also had the largest staff of any Apple Store back then.
Since then of course Apple has expanded from 147 stores in only four countries (there were six in each of Japan and the U.K. and two in Canada back then) to 511 stores in 25 countries, and now it’s already getting ready to open its 512th, which promises to be perhaps even more unique than the NYC cube store — this time in Singapore.
A Giant Floating Glowing Orb
The Fifth Avenue Apple Store was recognized for its big and boxy design — something that to us hearkened back to the classic Power Mac G4 Cube and was echoed by several other Apple Stores, including San Francisco’s Market Street location — Apple took the all-glass aesthetic to China with a different geometry, replicating the same concept in a huge glass cylinder instead that also served as the entryway to an underground store.
However, now it looks like in Singapore, Apple is pulling out all of the stops to do something completely different, in the form of a new retail store in Marina Bay, that looks like something that we’ve never quite seen before: A giant floating and glowing orb emblazoned with the Apple logo.
We’re not kidding either — this store literally floats on the water in Marina Bay, and according to 9to5Mac is being referred to in Apple’s marketing materials as “the lantern on the bay.”
Apple Marina Bay Sands is a gleaming orb resting on the waters of Singapore’s bayfront. During the day, the store’s glass panels reflect the towering skyline of the Downtown Core and motion of the rippling water. At night, the sphere glows with a gentle warmth, evoking the design of traditional lanterns carried during Singapore’s Mid-Autumn Festival.Apple
Apple also refers to the new store as a “dramatic departure from the design of any Apple Store before it,” which seems entirely true to us, since it’s really one of the first stores that eschews the usual glass-and-aluminum aesthetic that’s been seen in everything from the 2006 Fifth Avenue Cube to the sprawling Apple Park Campus.
In fact, it’s so different that we can’t help but wonder if the move has something to do with the departure of legendary Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, who had his hand in many of Apple’s most iconic architectural designs, and actually headed up the Apple Park project directly.
Of course, Apple’s former Senior VP of Retail Angela Ahrendts also did quite a bit for Apple’s retail arm, and spearheaded the opening of some of the most significant retail redesigns, including San Francisco’s Union Square location and its flagship Carnegie Library Store, but as exciting and interesting as these locations were, they followed a much different design ethos, focusing on more interesting indoor spaces much more than groundbreaking architecture.
This makes the new Marina Bay Sands Apple Store perhaps the most significant architectural design to come out of Apple in years, and it clearly feels like a new store for a new decade of Apple.
At this point, however, we don’t really know much of anything about what the store looks like inside, since it’s not yet open to the public, but the exterior is clearly visible to passers-by, who have already been sharing many pictures on social media of the unique-looking structure.
Apple notes that “an elevated boardwalk and underwater passage” will connect the store to the shore and the other stores at Marina Bay Sands, and although it adds that “the structure’s shape informs an entirely new store layout,” it’s also noted that we can pretty much expect business as usual on the inside.
While totally unique, Apple Marina Bay Sands will still offer the signature experience and familiar store features customers have come to expect from Apple’s other locations in Singapore.Apple
Of course, Apple will also be including the same health and safety measures found at its other retail stores in the midst of the global health pandemic, including limiting store occupancy, particularly on opening day, to ensure that everyone stays safe.
Marina Bay Sands is actually the third retail location that Apple is opening Singapore, which already holds the claim to fame of hosting the first entirely solar-powered Apple Store, which opened back in 2017 on Orchard Road. This was followed by Apple’s Jewel Changi Airport location which opened last year in the famous transportation hub where the world’s tallest indoor waterfall can also be found.