At Dubai’s latest and predictably minimalist Apple Store, motorized “solar wings” mimicking the motion of a bird is clearly the highlight. Designed by Foster + Partners, the two-story store has 18 carbon-fiber shutters that oscillate between closed and open, depending on the time of day. They’re folded shut during the day to provide shade, and open at night for views of the nearby Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. When open, visitors also have access to the 183-foot-long terrace.
"The opening and closing of these majestic solar wings is analogous to a delicate ballet recital – but on a monumental scale," Foster + Partners' head of studio Stefan Behling tells Dezeen. "In some ways it is a very spiritual experience, with the sun streaming through them and creating the most delicate and beautiful patterns of light and shade – a seamless blend of technology and culture."
The design of the solar wings is inspired by traditional Arabic Mashrabiya, a projecting bay window enclosed by decorative wooden screens. There are also full-size trees in planters that mechanically rotate to ensure the plants receive even sunlight. Seating is embedded in the planters for visitors to enjoy the view.
See the wings in action in this video: