The Floating Apple Store in Singapore
In early September 2020 Apple opened its third store in Singapore and 512th store overall. Apple has been active in the Lion City since 1981. But the reason this latest location is really making headlines is because it holds the distinction of being the first ever Apple store to be built on water. Its main section is floating in Singapore’s Marina Bay, meters into the water and in front of the boardwalk of the Marina Bay Sands casino/hotel. For readers who are actually familiar with this area, this particular Apple Store is located at the exact same location where the Crystal Pavilions used to be and the former home of a popular nightclub known as Avalon.
The Marina Bay itself features a concentration of some of the most-impressive and advanced architecture in the world. And in that regard the new Apple Store, which is officially named the Apple Marina Bay Sands, fits right in. For instance, the surface structure, i.e. the part of the facility that is actually visible from ground level, is made of glass – 114 pieces to be exact – and is also see-through. One can also say that it is shaped like an apple. But more specifically it is a large dome, i.e. the see-through part, floating on top of a solid-gray base, which takes up about 20% of the bottom. And to say it is eye-catching, even in that environment, would be true albeit an understatement.
Moreover in keeping with Singapore’s commitment to green technology, there is a giant opening, an oculus as it is called, at the very top of the dome. According to Apple this feature was inspired by a piece of 2nd century Roman architecture known as the Pantheon. The oculus is intended to add illuminating sunlight into the facility. Yet the structure is designed in such a way to simultaneously keep the heat out.
And considering that the populated part of the structure is in fact made of transparent glass, that means more than enough sunlight penetrates, enough so that there is no need for artificial lighting in the daytime. Moreover there are trees located inside in the store. Such is possible considering that, once again, there is an abundance of natural light. Apple itself has stated that the primary purpose of the trees is to provide patrons additional shade from the ample sun which penetrates the dome’s exterior. Also on the exterior are what are referred to as “concentric light sunshade rings” which, as implied, are able to further shade the interior from sunlight. Additionally it appears the top part of the dome is intentionally darker than the bottom for this very purpose.
The architect in charge of creating the store described it as “not only a celebration of Apple’s incredible products but a celebration of light”. And in that regard whereas it is indeed eye-catching, in the nighttime, the dome is not meant to be overly-bright. Rather as the aforementioned architect, Stefan Behling, further explained it is intended to be “very calming”. During the evening hours, it is perhaps more accurate to say that it glows as opposed to emitting light per se. And said glow was actually designed in such a way to resemble a traditional Singaporean lantern.
The interior design of the Apple Marina Bay Sands is arguably even more attractive than its exterior. Despite being one of the world’s leading tech companies, Apple took a minimalist approach, with most of the furniture in the shop being of a basic wood design. For instance, some of the seats which make up the store’s Forum, which we can say takes up about 15% of the interior of the dome, are basically wooden boxes. Moreover generally speaking the entire facility, at least based on the initial pics which have been released, is sparsely-furnished as is.
However, what actually highlights the Forum is a giant screen which Apple refers to as a Video Wall. They haven’t specified the exact dimensions of this giant monitor, but as its name implies it is really the size of a big wall. Additionally it isn’t intended to advertise Apple products per se. Rather as the area name implies, the primary function of “the Forum” is to serve as a venue where various Singaporean artists can display their works. In fact Apple described the Video Wall as a “stage”.
Indeed we’ve already pointed out in previous posts that the Marina Bay Sands is an institution which is committed to promoting the arts. And in that regard, the initiative which Apple in particular is undertaking is entitled Today at Apple and will take place in their store’s Forum via the Video Wall. In fact according to the tech company itself, the overall facility is meant to inspire creativity in its patrons.
And speaking of the overall facility, a good portion of it is actually on a subterranean level. More specifically, there is a tunnel that leads from the promenade to the actual dome. Even more specifically said tunnel, which is 147 feet (45 meters) long, connects the dome with The Shoppes at Marina Bay, a popular shopping mall attached to the Marina Bay Sands. And upon exiting the tunnel you enter the dome via an escalator ride which takes about a minute to complete.
The center of the tunnel is lined with what are referred to as Genius Bars. As their name suggests, these are stations that slightly resemble drinking bars. However, what is actually being served here is direct in-person assistance, both of the software and hardware variety, to visitors of the store. And just as bars have their bartenders, Genius Bars has what Apple refers to as Geniuses, i.e. personnel who are specifically trained to perform this very job. And even beyond these professionals, the Apple Marina Bay Sands employs approximately 150 employees overall. Moreover, collectively they are able to speak over 20 different languages.
And beside the tunnel, the dome can also be accessed via a small bridge that leads from the promenade. Traversing the walkway is quite an open-air experience in and of itself, as the individual is given an extended view of the Downtown Core.
Moreover concerning the aforementioned Video Wall, it has been noted that there is an actual “secret passage” behind it. This leads to a platform where one can walk along the exterior of the dome on its backside. This side is facing northeast, while you enter via the walkway from the southwest. Unlike the walkway, this back platform does not have rails, though it is a lot wider. But what really highlights the platform is that this is the particular side where a giant Apple logo, which glows rather-coolly at night, is located.
There is also another subterranean level which serves as a Boardroom, which Apple has pointed out is the first one they ever built underwater. This is where those in charge of the store will conduct some of their official meetings, briefings and training sessions. The training sessions are going to be geared specifically towards developers and entrepreneurs. So it doesn’t appear that the Boardroom it is actually open to public access.
And perhaps needless to say, with the exception of Boardroom, throughout the facility you will find numerous Apple products on display. But what is quite unique is that they are well-spaced out. And honestly speaking the interior of the dome in particular doesn’t really look like a store per se, at least not based on the initial pics. What it actually resembles is like a really high-end internet cafe.
Visiting the Apple Store
If you were to visit the Apple Marina Bay Sands official website, you will notice that you can reserve a one-on-one shopping session with one of the store’s Specialists. But still it has been generally recommended, considering the coronavirus pandemic and all, that if you intend to visit in the near future it may be best to make a general reservation (via the same website) to maximize your chances of gaining entry.
The Marina Bay Sands prides itself on sporting a sleek look, high-tech facilities and being artistic in its approach. And the Apple Store at the Marina Bay Sands reflects this overall vision. For not only has Apple undertaken an original, state-of-the-art construction project but also the store itself is like a gallery designed to push boundaries and promote art. Yet the primary focus, of course, is on selling Apple products and simultaneously providing customers with in-house tech support.
But even outside of the commercial aspect, the Apple Marina Bay Sands is situated in such a manner that it provides a unique, 360-degree view of the Lion City’s beautiful Downtown Core. So as it stands now, the facility is in fact a tourist attraction whose appeal transcends its commerce.