Sanlitun is a vibrant urban quarter in Beijing, home to Apple’s first store in China built in 2008. The newly relocated Apple Sanlitun is the centre piece of the surrounding development and sits adjacent to the previous store, surrounded by a network of bustling pedestrian laneways. The store creates a new dialogue with the surrounding layout of multi-level pedestrianised streets, occupying a prominent central position facing the large open square that is a social focus for the district.
Drawing on the vibrant energy of the area, Apple Sanlitun has a porous building envelope that opens out onto all four sides and connects to the multi-layered circulation network. The principal glazed façade facing the central square floods the display areas inside with natural light. Two monumental stone staircases on either side of the store lead up to the Genius Grove on the upper level. Lined with trees that add greenery to the perimeter, the glazed façade to the rear allows light into the space and dematerialises the boundary between the inside and the outside. The Forum, situated within the grand upper level, forms an animated backdrop to the space, which steps down with integrated upholstered leather seating forming a viewing gallery for the lively square outside.
Designed and engineered by the integrated design team at Foster + Partners, the store is protected by a large overhanging roof providing shelter from the heavy monsoon rain and intense summer sun. 390 square-metres of integrated rooftop photovoltaic panels offset the energy consumption of the store and a bespoke integrated ceiling system seamlessly houses ventilation, cooling, fire protection equipment and lighting equipment. Multiple energy saving measures including advanced façade design, optimised air conditioning and efficient lighting systems combine to achieve 29% lower energy consumption than typical retail outlets, setting a new benchmark for Apple stores.
Apple Sanlitun also features a unique structural system that has been used for the first time in China – a Special Truss Moment Frame is designed to effectively resist seismic forces, while allowing large column-free interior spaces. Tuned mass dampers reduce excessive vibration in the cantilevered upper level and Buckling Restrained Braced Frames minimise the structural impact on the existing basement. The team also worked closely with the construction team to carry out a pre-installation loading test to simulate the structural deflections arising from the weight of roof insulation, waterproofing and PV cladding panels to achieve the smooth, flowing geometry of the cantilever roof.