This project began with a palpable sense of crisis. With the development of fintech and new financial services, the convenience of "anytime", "anywhere" has become the norm. The upshot is that sometime in the future, traditional bank branch buildings will no longer be needed. In order to realize a sustainable regional city, what is required of a bank that is also part of a region's infrastructure? Who are Awa Bank's customers? What kind of value does it provide to customers? To this end, thorough discussions were held about the future of brick-and-mortar bank branches.
A year of discussions finally yielded an answer: “partnership” for those who share Awa Bank's values. With this in mind, creating a public space at the center of the building was determined to be appropriate. The space could attract current customers, and also local residents and tourists, resulting in a truly open bank branch that would create a "win-win-win" relationship between customers, the community, and the bank.
The bank's motto, "Sound Management," has underpinned its 123-year history, and its flagship branch sought an architecture embodying the spirit of this phrase. This meant “following basic truths and principles and paying respect to clients’ trust” and “preserving tradition while challenging the future.”
A framework based on horizontal and vertical architectural principles, along with a thorough modular design, gave discipline to the entire building. The design’s “purity” was enhanced by maintaining clean structural façades, eliminating any exposed rainwater pipes, and ensuring that no incongruent materials were locked into the frame. The ceiling is designed with a 600mm + 85.7mm slit, inside which all necessary equipment has been installed. Air conditioning uses floor ventilation to eliminate clutter, showcasing the elegant ceiling design.
The exterior of the building is set back to create depth and to draw in the activities of the adjacent shopping arcade. Different floor levels are exposed to reveal the movement that occurs inside. The goal was to create an architecture with a rich spatial duality, where the "dignity" of the flagship office and the "liveliness" of the public coexist.
The design intent was to provide "incidental new encounters" that would expand the aspirations of both people who do business with the bank and those who do not. Counter services previously divided by business category were re-assigned into speedy "quick services" and more knowledge/skill-based "personal services," and developed on different floors.
Public functions connected these services, including a "library space" to facilitate reading, a "co-working space" for businessmen and students to meet, and the "Awa Bank Plaza,” a citizen's gallery with a history dating back more than 20 years. These areas are scattered throughout the building. A skip-floor layout enables each half-floor to be connected to the next, creating a structure with a high degree of circulation without dead-ends, compelling visitors to circle the premises in search of "new encounters.”
Architecture takes on meaning only when people are involved. Indeed, activity design is the essence of architectural design. The goal here was to sublimate architecture in a comfortable, human space by designing furniture and other elements that people touch and that determine their behavior.
Furniture design was based on the project’s architectural modules. It imbues a sense of unity, while at the same time focusing on the way people face each other in its angular orientation. Since people rarely face each other squarely, they do not feel a sense of embarrassment when meeting for the first time. In addition, furniture is arranged at an angle, providing a calm personal space where people are not compelled to gaze directly at each other.
Furniture is fashioned from locally-sourced Tokushima Prefecture wood, while fixtures are designed with traditional Tokushima craftsmanship, such as Awa woodwork tables that do not use any nails for joints and laminated glass made with Awa Japanese paper. The goal was to create an interior that would allow visitors to see and feel regional materials and craftsmanship and to feel proud of their hometown.
项目名称：阿波银行总行营业大楼 AWA BANK Head Office Sales Department