16 Mar 2021 • Institutions
Is biophilic design the answer for better financial spaces?
For its largest wealth advisory hub in the world, Citibank tasked Ministry of Design with rethinking the banking experience for high-net-worth clients.
When global financial institution Citibank launched a design competition for a future wealth management centre in Singapore, it was looking for concepts that promised to foster a more immersive, interpersonal experience for its clients. In other words, designers were called to challenge the conventions and stagnancy of high-net-worth banking spaces. Ministry of Design had the right idea: the team visualized the hub as a biophilic ‘Banking Conservatory’ able to not only host the financial services but community-driven events and investment workshops. The realized space spans 2,275 sq-m and four floors, with over 30 client advisory rooms and flexible office and event areas.
True to its name, the Banking Conservatory is home to a sizable range of plant life. In the glass-lined atrium, the lush landscaping frames a series of lifestyle-inspired spaces including an observation deck, feature bar, lounge niches and garden meeting pods. Sinuous planter boxes, lined in hairline brass metal and lit on the edges, create navigation pathways. Working with the landscape architecture practice ICN Design International, Ministry of Design carefully selected shade-thriving tropical plants with the ability to adapt to air-conditioned environments; they are sustained by a hydroponic system and installed in custom trays for seamless maintenance. Grow-lights are integrated into the open ceiling’s architectural lighting system.
The effect of the extensive planting and natural finishes within the glass-and-metal structure is that of a luxe greenhouse. The back-of-house workspaces are conceived as an extension to the main conservatory, with a variety of hot-desking set-ups, collaboration tables, fixed work stations, a ‘town hall zone’ and more. Wood, stone and marble appear throughout, harmonizing with furnishings from the likes of Vitra, Herman Miller, Minotti and Poltrona Frau.