Sugamo Shinkin Bank by Emmanuelle Moureaux, Japan

Sugamo Shinkin Bank
The Sugamo Shinkin Bank Tokiwadai Branch by Emmanuelle Moureaux features a white, aluminium facade punctured by holes that form the shape of a series of trees
(Image credit: TBC)

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.

Front of bank, street view

Behind the facade is a metre of space that allows the structure to breathe. Pockets of this are planted with vegetation

(Image credit: TBC)

Side perspective view

With no bank logo and few other identifying marks, the random colours and window treatments effectively become the signage

(Image credit: TBC)

Interior view from staircase

Ample, natural lighting and Moureaux's 'Leaf' motif combine to create an airy, playful space

(Image credit: TBC)

windows and chairs in 14 different colours

Large, panoramic windows and chairs in 14 different colours are arranged to create a relaxed environment for the bank's clients

(Image credit: TBC)

Staircase with partitions

Leaves in many shades pepper the walls and windows throughout the branch

(Image credit: TBC)

'Leaf' motif real vegetation inside and out

Real trees, inside and out, combine with the 'Leaf' motif to create what the architect calls a 'magical forest'

(Image credit: TBC)

Street view of bank at night

Even at night, the bank blends comfortably into its low-key surroundings

(Image credit: TBC)

internal courtyards

Light pours into the second floor through some of the bank's seven internal courtyards

(Image credit: TBC)

Perspective view of bank exterior

The holes in the facade and space behind it keep the aluminium cool to the touch, even in the scolding hot summer sun

(Image credit: TBC)

Interior atrium

Nature, real and otherwise, permeates the building, even in this second-floor meeting area

(Image credit: TBC)