Foster’s Store in Hangzhou

A Temple for Apple


Using architecture as an emblem, sometimes as a technological lure, is nothing new. Suffice it to remember the recurring association of avant-garde buildings with automobiles, a link forged in times of Le Corbusier and continuing to this day. But after the ‘fourth machine age’ – that period which led from the analog to the digital – the symbols of the avant-garde are no longer cars, but ‘intelligent’ devices we invariably deem necessary thanks to increasingly sophisticated applications. This explains why the large technological corporations are partly entrusting their corporate images to architects of the global star system. They clearly understand that the best publicity is an impactful and easily legible building or battery of buildings. A good example is Apple, which in the wake of the close rapport developed between Norman Foster and the late Steve Jobs during the drawing up of the preliminary project for the immense ring-shaped campus of the company in Silicon Valley, in Cupertino, tasked the British architect to design its flagship stores around the world. The first store of the series, in Istanbul, opened some months ago, and now comes the one in Hangzhou, steep in the Chinese market, one of the most important for the Californian firm. With its bold geometry and its pure lines expressing the formal subtlety and technical innovation that characterizes all Apple products, the Foster shop is sheltered within a 15-meter-tall immaculate white box whose facade of large glass panes shows the objects displayed inside with the transparency of a giant aquarium.

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