Apple Piazza Liberty flagship store opens in Milan
Apple Piazza Liberty has opened in Milan, the latest significant global flagship for the tech retailer.
The store is an ensemble of two fundamental elements: a stepped plaza and a fountain. Located just off the Corso Vittorio Emanuele – one of the most popular pedestrian streets in Milan – visitors are drawn towards the piazza by the sight of the dramatic new fountain.
Designed by London-based Foster + Partners, which has an ongoing relationship with Apple to design flagships globally, the store is described as “a celebration of the joys of city life” and embodying Milan’s dynamic nature with a signature water feature which is an “interactive, multisensory experience”.
Visitors enter the fountain through a glass-covered entrance enveloped by the sights and sounds of vertical jets of water that splash against the 26-foot (8-metre) high glass walls.
A Foster + Partners spokesperson likens the experience as “an immersive recreation of the childhood game of running through fountains” with an experience which changes throughout the day as sunlight filters through the water. At night, the glass ceiling creates a kaleidoscopic effect, with the water falling down the walls, its reflections travelling infinitely up into the sky.
The fountain flows down into the base of the amphitheatre, a new social hub and an outdoor extension of ‘Today at Apple’. The amphitheatre is defined by broad and sun-soaked stone steps descending below street level and opening up to a stage, backed by a second fountain’s wall of water. The entire plaza is newly created and paved with Beola Grigia – a typical local stone from Lombardy, and surrounded by 21 new Gleditsia Sunburst trees.
“The interior is a bright, monolithic space, metaphorically carved out of the same stone as the plaza above,” says Foster + Partners. “The ceiling follows the stepped profile of the amphitheatre, with skylights and backlit ceiling panels that innovatively combine artificial and natural light. Through the roof and stairs, warm shafts of sun penetrate deep into the sunken store, connecting the interior with the light and rhythm of Milan and giving it a feel of a spacious daylight-filled art gallery.”
The stairs leading into the store consist of polished stainless-steel clad cantilevering treads that also become a sculptural light installation, the designers say creates a theatrical and exciting experience.