The latest Apple Store designed by Foster + Partners has opened on the Champs-Élysées in Paris last week, occupying the grounds and courtyard of a historic Parisian apartment, yes I said apartment. The ornate Beaux-Art building has been appropriated by “carefully interweaving several layers of history with contemporary, light-filled and inviting spaces.”
The design is the result of a close collaboration by Foster + Partners and Apple’s chief design officer Sir Jonathan Ive, which has produced Apple Stores around the world including Piazza Liberty in Milan, Michigan Avenue in Chicago and Regent Street in London.
The surviving detailing of the building, situated on the corner of Champs-Élysées and Rue Washington, has been restored and incorporated with the design, “sympathetically juxtaposed within dynamic contemporary interior spaces. Visitors enter via an ornate 19th-century Parisian passage flanked by display spaces, before being directed to a newly-revived “cour intérieure” (interior courtyard).
The courtyard, adorned with large mature trees, is activated by a unique Kaléidoscope solar roof-light with mirrored pyramids reflecting sunlight onto internal surfaces. The roof light is covered in solar panels on the exterior, while reflecting fragmented images of the surrounding urban landscape from below. As day turns to night, the effect of the Cubist-inspired roof light changes, offering new experiences from every corner.
Original features retained during the renovation include a restored timber and marble grand staircase connecting the levels. Given that the apartment has transcended several uses through its lifetime, the Fosters proposal sought to revive the original spirit of the building, with restored features such as the staircase juxtaposed with the dynamic new additions such as the roof light. The constant transition between old and new is designed to allow visitors to appreciate the history of the location, catching glimpses of historic fabric from contemporary spaces, and vice versa.
The lengths Apple has gone to in order to work with the local environment will hopefully, but highly unlikely put a stop to Apple demolishing a part of Melbourne’s highly awarded architecture at Federation Square for a more sympathetic solution like the Apple Store Champs-Élysées.