Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Open Lounge in Zurich, Switzerland by NAU Architecture
June 5th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: NAU
Raiffeisen’s flagship branch on Zurich’s Kreuzplatz dissolves traditional barriers between customer and employee, creating a new type of “open bank,” a space of encounter. Advanced technologies make banking infrastructure largely invisible; employees access terminals concealed in furniture elements, while a robotic retrieval system grants 24 hour access to safety deposit boxes. This shifts the bank’s role into becoming a light-filled, inviting environment – an open lounge where customers can learn about new products and services.
This lounge feels more like a high-end retail environment than a traditional bank interior. Conversations can start spontaneously around a touchscreen equipped info-table and transition to meeting rooms for more private discussions. The info-table not only displays figures from world markets in realtime, but can be used to interactively discover the history of Hottingen, or just check the latest sports scores.
Elegantly flowing walls blend the different areas of the bank into one smooth continuum, spanning from the customer reception at the front, to employee workstations oriented to the courtyard. The plan carefully controls views to create different grades of privacy and to maximize daylight throughout. The walls themselves act as a membrane mediating between the open public spaces and intimately scaled conference rooms.
Portraits of the quarter’s most prominent past residents like Böklin, Semper or Sypri grace the walls, their abstracted images milled into Hi-macs using advanced digital production techniques. While intricately decorative, the design grounds the bank in the area’s cultural past, while looking clearly towards the future.
Created in conjunction with iart interactive, the Info-table in the lounge offers customers a chance to check the latest stock quotes, or the daily news. The touchscreen also allows one to learn about the history of the area and the personalities prominently displayed on the bank’s walls. Most importantly it acts as a magnet for client and advisor to meet around casually, before deciding if they should move to the adjoining meeting rooms for further discussion.
Displayed information is updated realtime from the web through programmed RSS feeds. New figures pop up like animated soap bubbles.
NAU is an international, multidisciplinary design firm, spanning the spectrum from architecture and interior design to exhibitions and interactive interfaces. As futurists creating both visual design and constructed projects, NAU melds the precision of experienced builders with the imagination and attention to detail required to create innovative exhibits, public events and architecture. NAU has quickly garnered recognition as an accomplished creator of fashionable interiors for retail, hotels, restaurants and residences. Its dedicated teams offer a personal touch, working with clients to align design approach with the appropriate market. Distilled in clear, contemporary forms, the designs of NAU promote modern, flexible solutions that engage and welcome.
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