Sustainability, nature, the world of Apple technology, and the history of early 20th-century London have been brought together in the English capital’s new Apple Store, which opened in late July 2022 with an exciting program of public events. Apple Brompton Road is on the street of the same name in London’s bustling Knightsbridge district, just a short distance from Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Designed with respect for the local area and the stone and red brick building it occupies, while also providing excellent amenities for its customers and over 200 staff, the project for this hi-tech retail space was the work of Foster + Partners, which successfully responded to Apple’s display and experiential retail strategies while protecting architectural heritage.
“Apple Brompton Road is a calm oasis in a bustling and vibrant part of London,” says Stefan Behling, senior executive partner at Foster + Partners. “Customers interact with Apple’s incredible range of products and experience their personalized customer service in a unique setting that incorporates historical and natural elements.”
And even if you’re just strolling past the store, you soon pick up on these characteristics through its 13-foot-wide (4 m) arched windows, which allow natural light to flood into the interior from floor level to the 23-foot-high (7 m) ceiling. The central arch and four side arches (two on either side of the entrance) frame eight Sicilian Ficus trees inside, each of which grows in a specially designed circular planter with incorporated bench seating, providing places for customers to gather and chat. In combination with the transparency of the windows, the trees blur the boundary between inside and out, while also giving the entire retail space a connection with nature that recalls the greenery of nearby Hyde Park. Another four trees, also with bench planters, and stone columns define a central corridor, which extends from the entrance to the back wall.
The entrance to Apple Brompton Road is through the central arch, which mirrors the dimensions of the entrance to the former Brompton Arcade, built in 1903 and designed by George Dennis Martin. Its shape, as well as the shape of the side arches, is mirrored in both the façade and the curved wooden ceiling. The ceiling itself contributes to the multilayered effect created by natural light entering the store and the point lighting installed inside it. Its color also integrates perfectly with the tones of the other structural and furnishing elements, adding to the laidback, welcoming atmosphere of the store achieved with its palette of delicate shades and sustainable design. Another contributor to this atmosphere is the wooden seating cubes, which occupy the end of the central spine in front of a video wall. This event space, dubbed the Forum, is finished with a specialized reflective fabric, so that everything that goes on in the sales area – the only square space in the store – is mirrored to increase the sense of depth. The audio equipment in the Forum is integrated into the walls so it’s completely invisible. As a result, the screen appears to be floating. Another feature of the new store is a designated Apple Pickup area for collecting online orders.
As far as the environment is concerned, wood was used for the display tables and furnishings, while all the store’s energy needs are met by 100% renewable sources. A first for any Apple Store, the floors are made from a plant-based resin.
Location: London, UK
Architects: Foster + Partner
Photography by Nigel Young, courtesy of Foster + Partner and Apple