Located in Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, Regional Head Office – Standard Bank was designed by Elphick Proome Architects. The primary concept driving the design was the creation of a dynamic workplace with open plan, interactive space capitalizing on circulation and movement to facilitate visual connection and communication between staff and clients. Externally, the traditional notion of ‘Bank’ solidity was transformed into a composition of layered bastion-like blade walls shielding the west sun, noise and weather and contrasting light elements.
The site is adjacent to a Cricket Oval, and a landscaped podium facilitates semi-basement parking, generating a datum which is anchored on the south west by the Retail Bank building responding strongly to its corner location. The office building is arranged on three levels and four blocks articulated with a central atrium space and interceding streets. Office floors overlook and connect spatially to the street and strategically placed elevated glazed meeting pods set on the interfaces enliven the street spaces. Vertical circulation is facilitated with escalators and a glazed lift promoting social interaction in the core zone, being reinforced with informal pause areas at each level. The street accesses a visitor’s centre, client meeting pods and training centre and accommodates open meeting clusters with a café on the north end spilling out into a planted court.
The complex is characterised by distinctive treelike structures support floating roof planes at various levels over the atrium and street. These extend well beyond the envelope to become iconic entrance canopies to the Bank and Office Buildings. A palette of honed sandstone, polished black granite, offshutter concrete, silver steelwork and lively planar glazing imbue the exterior with a rich, sophisticated character. White interiors are offset with dark blue accent planes, travertine and flamed granite floors, maple and bubinga joinery. A clean, luminous interior quality serves to enhance the office and public spaces, providing constant visual stimuli to promote a positive working ethos.