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Foster + Partners, Apple Piazza Liberty Store, Nigel Young

A Place for Apple: Apple Piazza Liberty Store in Milan

The Apple Piazza Liberty Store in the centre of Milan comprises two fundamental elements: a fountain made of glass and a stairway-like plaza ensemble. Visitors enter the fountain, which features a large Apple logo, through a roofed-in entrance surrounded by jets of water.
The fountain flows down, ending in an amphitheatre space: the store and the outdoor extension of the Today at Apple event program. The use of new apple devices and applications is taught in workshops held at Apple Stores around the world on the premise of promoting creativity. The ceiling of the amphitheatre, with its skylights and backlit panels, follows the same stairway profile as the plaza above it.
Stefan Behling (Head of Studio) from Foster + Partners commented on the spectacular project: “There can be no greater honour and responsibility than to create a new public plaza in Italy, whose piazzas and urban spaces have always inspired us.”
However, there was no comment concerning this obvious combination of the commercial interests of a huge enterprise with the design of a public urban space. Since the 2000s, this development has been the focus of increasing criticism. The refurbishment of Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz has clearly shown the new reality of privatized urban spaces. The indisputably successful design by Foster + Partners artistically conceals the entanglement of commercial and public urban space. Nonetheless, the beautification strategies mask the project’s true purpose: to transform this formerly public space into yet another monitored (sales) area.

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