Structural and facade engineering for Apple’s most ambitious and iconic store to date using sleek steel framing and, in a world first on this scale, the individual glass panels to brace the structure.
Apple Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is the first Apple Store to sit directly on the water, appearing as a sphere floating on the iridescent Marina Bay. The stunning, complex but deceivingly simple looking, 17m high and 30m wide dome structure creates a stunning open and column free space inside. We carried out the structural and facade engineering and undertook a site supervisory role for this amazing, unique building.
The sphere is a first-of-its-kind, all-glass dome structure that is fully self-supported and comprises only 114 panels of glass with only 10 narrow vertical mullions for structural connection.
In a feat not done before on this scale anywhere in the world, instead of using additional diagonal steel bracing or large moment connections at the joints, we have designed the individual glass panels to brace and stiffen the structure.
In addition to this, the size of the insulated glass panels has been maximised to limit the number of joints, hiding them only where there is structure, increasing the overall transparency of the building. The largest of the panels measuring 10m wide x 3m high. To give it its dome geometry, the panels have been designed to be conical in shape with each individual panel ‘warm’ or lamination bent into shape. Again, this is the first time that this type of bending has been used on this scale before in the world.
A central circular domed panel of glass, the Oculus, crowns the top of the dome. In the event of a fire, the adjacent glass panels rise up to release smoke inside the building.
The steel structure, which form the dome’s structure, has been designed to be super slender to allow it to retain its sleek lightweight appearance after being clad in stainless steel to contain the services. The ability to contain the various services including lighting and sprinkler system within the cladding and still meet the overall architectural vision and create Apple’s trademark minimalist look inside.
Circumferential baffles around the dome act as glare protection and acoustic attenuation panels. We provided the full superstructure design from concept through to supervision on site and completion.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Foster + Partners