At the beginning of 2016 we won an architectural competition to design a new look of the office branches of one of the largest banks in Bulgaria. We developed a detailed concept of contemporary outlook and new customer service environment that formed the basis for the renovation of the bank’s branch network in line with its modernization and digitalization policy. Stemming from the idea of future digital banking, we completed the pilot design of a centrally located bank office, opened for customers at the beginning of 2017.
Looking for a different perception of the environment, typical of a bank branch, we moved the functional units from their common location in the center of the office to its periphery to make room for a spacious and open common area. The function of the separate units defines the dynamics of the surrounding walls, bringing the interior to life and integrating aesthetics and usability.
In niches in the surrounding walls, we set the waiting seats, multimedia areas with various information content, interactive screens, ATMs, exhibition areas, cash desks, etc. The cavity above and below the green niches is used for the electrical system, air conditioning and ventilation ducts. Hidden behind the louvers, the installations provide more space for a higher ceiling. Ventilation grids are integrated behind the louvers too.
The restrained use of the material palette complements the simplicity and unity of the space. The white floor and ceiling complete the indiscrete and simple vision. The floor is covered with light granite tiles 3meters long to 1.5 meters wide to create the impression of a continuous white surface. The ceiling elements are reduced to their minimum.
Both long sides of the surrounding walls are covered with white vertical louvers, intersected by a dynamic green strip. The strip evolves into the third dimension and forms concave spaces with diverse height and depth. The vertical louvers visually increase the height of the office and add an architectural detail. They also create a unified background for the green strip, formed by numerous triangular panels. The usage of the different areas defines two types of panels’ finishing - solid, when used for built-in devices and upholstered, when used for sitting.
Being a public space with orthogonal shape, flat and solid floor and ceiling, the branch requires more thoughtful treatment of the walls in order to achieve acoustic comfort. The vertical louvers and the variously oriented textile panels contribute to the good acoustics.
The bank’s branch office is an open space that combines consultants' desks, waiting areas and a few self-service or informational devices. Consultants' desks are designed as blocks, shaped by inox panels, styled as the dynamic green strip, which makes them look like they are extracted from it. Interactive screens are built into desks' top. They change their positions and allow the consultants to work with clients and have privacy when needed.
The video consulting module is also designed as a block of inox panels that revolves around a vertical axis to be suitable even for disabled people.
All the free-standing furniture in the office has bigger work surface and volume on top that contrasts with their much smaller base. This specific volume distribution and the reflectiveness of the surfaces give them an ethereal look. Cashiers' desks are located in a wide niche, which is a part of the green strip behind the vertical louvers. A private consultation room is situated at the end of the bank office, separated from the rest of the area by a glass wall that changes in seconds in non-transparent mode by integrated electro chromatic technology. The staff area is accessed by built-in doors behind the white louvers.
The simple and definitive design of the completed bank office contrasts the ornate and multicolor surrounding of the shopping mall. It distinguishes it and attracts the attention of passers-by. The green strip starts from the large interactive screens on each side of the entrance and leads the eyesight deeper into the interior. The balanced use of materials and textures, the unified modeling language and the stark geometrical and color accent define a distinct, notable, and contemporary space.