In a sleepy neighbourhood just outside Tokyo's Yamanote Line, French architect Emmanuelle Moureaux has completed the second installment of a mini banking revolution. Her latest build, the Tokiwadai branch of Sugamo Shinkin Bank, is an airy and playful construction, which, like the Niiza branch, is designed to dispel the intimidating atmosphere perpetuated by conventional financial institutions.
Devoid of aggressive signage, the building is identified by its bright colours, which this time frame a rhythmical assortment of windows. Instead of the concrete she used for the Niiza branch, Moureaux has created a fresh, white aluminium facade, punctured by a series of holes in the pattern of a tree. Behind the aluminium plating is a metre of space that allows the structure to breathe and provides room for small pockets of vegetation.
'I hate the tension and nervousness at banks so I set out to create a space within the town in which people would experience nature and feel relaxed,' explains the Tokyo-based architect. To that end, seven tree-filled courtyards permeate the bank, inviting the outdoors in. Elsewhere, a leaf motif peppers walls and windows throughout the building, while chairs in 14 different colours ensure a laid-back atmosphere in stark contrast to the interiors of most finance buildings. A third branch for the bank is now underway.