A sculptural roof light covers the courtyard of Foster + Partners‘ latest Apple Store, which opened on the Champs-Élysées in Paris over the weekend. Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous avenues in the world. It is a celebration of Parisian urban life and epitomizes the timeless spirit of this great city. The ornate Beaux-Art style buildings that line the famous tree-lined boulevard have been synonymous with Parisian living for centuries. Tapping into the energy and vitality of the historic promenade, Apple Champs-Élysées captures the essence of this bustling metropolis by creating a unique cour intérieure (interior courtyard) within a quintessential Parisian apartment, carefully interweaving several layers of history with contemporary, light-filled and inviting spaces. The courtyard pulls the vitality of the historic promenade deep into the building, creating a unique interior experience that is full of life and energy.
The design is the result of a close collaboration between Apple’s teams led by Sir Jonathan Ive, chief design officer and Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of Retail and Foster + Partners. “My collaboration with Foster + Partners is now in its tenth year and I am thrilled we have completed such a special project together,” explains Sir Jonathan Ive. “I love Paris. The charm and allure of the city is encapsulated by the scale and energy of the Champs-Élysées, and Apple Champs-Élysées is an extension of that vitality, wrapped within a historic envelope, with a careful juxtaposition of new and old.”
Situated on the corner of Champs-Élysées and Rue Washington, the surviving original detailing of the historic building has been carefully restored and seamlessly incorporated within the design, sympathetically juxtaposed with dynamic contemporary interior spaces. The entrance is via a beautiful 19th century Parisian passage, with display spaces on either side. It leads to a newly revived courtyard with large mature trees that create an almost external and natural setting and a unique Kaléidoscope solar roof-light, featuring mirrored pyramids that reflect dappled sunlight onto the internal façades and floor below.
The Kaléidoscope – covered by photovoltaic panels above – reflects fragmented images of the surrounding building fabric when you look up from within the courtyard, referencing the Cubist tradition. The effect changes throughout the day and night and as you move through the building, offering a new experience from every corner. This inspirational space will host the Forum, where experts from various fields will entertain, inspire and teach visitors at Today at Apple events. Adjacent to the courtyard are calmer spaces, green walls and seating, creating the ideal place for visitors to pause and rest.
Internally, a beautifully restored original timber and marble escalier d’honneur (grand staircase) leads up to the floors above. Initially designed as a collection of appartement bourgeois, the building has gone through several incremental changes throughout its lifetime, and the design aims to revive the original spirit by restoring the detailing and interconnected spaces of the 19th century Parisian apartment.
The later additions to the building have been completely reimagined, creating a dynamic juxtaposition of new and old. This layered transference of scale and style allows visitors to appreciate the history of the location, as they pass through the display areas in different rooms, catching framed glimpses of the historic fabric from the contemporary spaces and vice-versa. Each of the rooms has balconies that open onto the Champs-Élysées, against the backdrop of Paris and views of the Eiffel Tower.
“This is one of the most unique Apple Flagships in the world, located along the world’s most beautiful avenue,” says Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “In true Parisian style it is rich in texture and envelopes a range of experiences that stimulate your senses. This is emblematic of the idea of juxtaposition that runs throughout the interior spaces, bringing together the historic and contemporary, interior and exterior, and ground and sky. As a place that inspires creativity, I love the fact that this was previously home to the aviation genius Alberto Santos-Dumont.”