Hello bank!: ping pong and banking

Locality Karla Engliše 3208/5, Praha 5
Client BNP PARIBAS PERSONAL FINANCE SA, odštěpný závod
Area m2
Realization 11/2017
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Hello bank! by Cetelem wants to change the traditional concept of bank branches. In its newly reconstructed branch in Prague, the Czech Republic it will serve as a client centre during the day, while in the evenings it will host cultural events, exhibitions, workshops and lectures. "Even the design of the bank's environment has to reflect the fact that the typical client already does most of his banking online," says Erika Bohatá, the CAPEXUS senior architect who conceived of the concept and design for the bank.

The target group of Hello bank! by Cetelem, a new bank of the BNP Paribas Personal Finance Group, are young clients who use banking services mainly via internet banking and mobile apps. "Our approach was not to design a conservative bank branch with counters. Instead, a multipurpose area was created, where clients can arrange their business during the day and meet informally at lectures, exhibitions and parties in the evening." 
 
Hello bank! by Cetelem completely changes the classic concept and functions of the bank branch. "This challenging commission required combining the function of a lively open space with places for private meetings," Bohatá adds. "The layout is based on mobile interior features, which can be easily moved or stored any time as needed. As a result, the space can be flexibly changed at any time of the day or year."

The uncharacteristic appearance and arrangement of the new bank branch also emerged from the wishes of the bank's employees and clients. "We wanted to have a nice place that we and our clients and business partners would like and be happy to return to," explains Gabriela Pithartová, the bank's Brand and Customer Experience Director. "I think we have succeeded. A bank is not just about ties and well-fitting suits. On the contrary, the people working in it are the same as our clients, who for example like to play ping pong after work."
 
Another atypical aspect of the space is the visible presence of its call centre. Thanks to the glass partition, the employees can be seen working in real time. The open layout thus reflects the values of a bank that does not hide anything from its clients or from the public.
 
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An example of how the architect supported the open space philosophy was the inclusion of a self-service coffee bar. It can be used by clients for refreshment or by employees for informal meetings.

The open space naturally posed an enhanced demand for acoustic comfort. "We achieved this through the installation of acoustic panels on the ceiling and the walls," the architect explains. "The panels absorb noise and moderate the reach of private conversations." Each zone was equipped with a different type of lighting, which divides the space visually according to its function. Round shapes pervade the interior, giving the entire area a harmonious and calm impression. A rounded line dividing the two floor textures serves as a subliminal navigation system. For discrete employee-client meetings, the CAPEXUS team designed three separate private rooms. 

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The entrance area is dominated by a wooden sculpture of a tree, and other elements of the interior are made of wood, too. The natural motifs enhance the pleasant informal atmosphere. The colours of the space are defined by light shades complemented with corporate colours, whereas the expressive colourful graphics on the walls were in part designed by the Hello bank! by Cetelem marketing team. The slogans on the walls communicate the bank's philosophy to its clients and its employees.

CAPEXUS also prepared other floors of the building in Karla Engliše Street, where both the branch of the Hello bank! by Cetelem as well as the company's management and some 400 employees are located.

Image courtesy: Jan Branč
Even the design of the bank's environment has to reflect the fact that the typical client already does most of his banking onlineErika Bohatá, senior architect, CAPEXUS

Karla Engliše 3208/5, Praha 5