Japan-based French architect Emmanuelle Moureaux is no stranger to commercial interiors. The Sugamo Shinkin Bank commissioned the architect to design three of its Tokyo branches, including two new-builds in Tokiwadai and Niiza.
When the bank approached Moureaux to design a fourth branch, in Ekoda, the architect jumped at the opportunity. Customer service sits at the heart of the company, an approach that fits perfectly with Moureaux's ethics. 'I wanted to create a bank the customers feel happy to visit,' she says.
The Ekoda branch was recently completed at the centre of one of Tokyo's busiest commercial districts. Drawing inspiration from the area's bustling activity, the architect worked on a design that would blend inside and outside. Moureaux's sleek glass façade provides instant visual access, and by pushing the main building back from the pavement by 2m, she created extra breathing room for a grand entrance.
Moureaux filled it with colourful 9m-tall columns - the use of colour being one of the architect's recurring fascinations. The 29 columns adorning the building's entrance are matched by another 19 placed inside the building, all painted playfully in rainbow colours. As visitors walk in, they are greeted by a glazed, bamboo-planted internal courtyard that offers lots of natural light and an airy, relaxed atmosphere.
The cleverly layered entrance, in combination with the splashes of colour from the columns, makes for a bright, pleasing environment that is as open and welcoming as the architect and her clients intended.