Sugamo Shinkin Bank – Ekoda Branch

Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design

Playfulness, transparency, colour. a vague definition of inside and outside, blurred boundary between private and public… these are all the standard qualities one associates with a bank, yes?

In tins startling little branch of the Sugamu Shinkin Bank, in Ekoda, Tokyo. Emmanuelle Moureaux turns expectations and traditions on their head, making a facade Zone’ of 48 vertical poles in the colours of the rainbow [29 outside,. 19 inside] that scatter across a two-metre setback on the property line and simply but effectively eliminate the conventional boundary line of the building How are we to interpret it? Are you in the bank? Outside it? Stopping by for a look? Is this public aft installation? Corporate identity exercise» A gift to the citizens and clients from the bank, whose motto, after all. is «Creating a bank the customers feel happy to visit’? When’s the last time you remember feeling happy visiting your bank’?

Well, if introducing a bit of colour and unexpected form can help that, so much the better The architect calls it a «rainbow shower’ and that’s a pretty decent description of the effect of the colourful rods. Their initial audacity is audaciously simple, once you ponder it. Nothing technically too difficult, nothing so wild or challenging that it pushes too far or tries too hard Just some painted poles. Yet their placement, and that core idea to push back the actual entry wall just slightly from the property line, does wonders, producing an area of space that is unique and. yes, uplifting. It is the very opposite of bank perimeters the world over, which emphasise the exact line between in and out, underscoring the security’ of the hank’s purpose. Sugamn decided to go the other way, and ended up with a space both clients and staff can delight in. One feels like plopping down in one of the appropriately modern, lighthearted chairs in the space, and ordering a cappuccino Completing your actual banking chores here probably occurs as an afterthought.

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