Text description provided by the architects. The new Arquia bank office occupies a ground floor level and a basement of an existing building in the centre of the city. The aim of the project was to clearly separate the private working areas from the public serving areas and to generate an atmosphere related to the concept of transparent banking while interpreting doubts, mistrust and distortions that the user normally perceives in a bank. This is done by means of a vitreous skin that sharply separates the public from the bank employees avoiding the usual landscape office and the dubious client proximity.
This diaphragm is constructed with borosilicate glass tubing and shapes a curved diffracting perimeter with different degrees of privacy while keeping natural lightning. That skin begins and ends in the street and encloses the public visitors while giving an intriguing glimpse of the employee’s activity. The geometry of the glass wall was determined by the position of three big free-standing pillars that were hidden from the public area trying to provoke a sense of lightness and effortless non-gravity. This operation divides the space in two parts, the client’s public area as a kind of magic space with a shiny lighted atmosphere for waiting, reading or doing economical transactions and, the offices area at the other side of the glass tubes with the private employee’s working spaces.
The entire project has been developed with strict colour significance. In one hand, the black colour defines the public areas where all accidental installations as lights, plugs, etc. are avoided not to distract the perception of its essentiality, and in the other hand, the grey colour defines the working areas that allow all lighting and computer systems. These two separate worlds meet just at three points, the two public service counters and the stairs leading to the lower floor. The dual colour scheme also contributes to the sense of mystery evoked by the materials, shapes and geometries of the space and is also applied for the furniture. All the fittings and structural elements to build up the glass wall, the counters and seating areas are made of stainless steel and partly cover in natural leather where any human parts can reach them.
The more private spaces have been placed in the basement like the conference room, archives, coffee room and toilets. The conference room is natural lighted from the street atop through two double height patios planted with bamboo and provided with a lamp-like distorted ceiling that makes the whole space loose weight while avoiding an uncomfortable basement feeling.
To the exterior the very restrained glass façade does not provide any information to the user except the access through a single opaque black door flanked by two glass-lined recesses planted with bamboo, behind which we can vaguely see a meeting room in the basement floor. In this way, we have imposed certain neutrality dictated by the desire to provoke doubt and curiosity in the visitor as a kind of urban experience that incites to look and penetrate without confirming if we are in a bank or a hairdresser.