New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1985
The warm colours of the executive offices provide a positive contrast to the coldness of the street. Athfield's innovative blue and yellow zig-zag and door handle.
There are 400 branches of the Bank of New Zealand throughout the country. From Kaitaia to Invercar-gill, each addresses slightly different markets in very individual towns. When the Bank looked for an architectural firm able to handle the massive job of commonality and personality for each branch, it looked to a firm with innovative ideas.
Athfield Architects in Wellington based their BNZ work on the concept of a common palette of colours and easily interchangeable components. This common base allowed the widest range of flexibility for different locations. Nan O'Sullivan, a designer … on the project explains the Athfield design:
"Interiors for each branch will be based on a palette of six colours of 5 shades each — copper, blue, green, gray, lilac and ochre. These warm and cold colours provide a positive contrast to the coldness of the street. Everyone knows that the Bank's colours are blue and yellow, but we felt that our choice of colours would set the stage for blue and yellow accents, making them more striking. We want the customer to feel there is a common thread between the branches, but not know exactly why because each branch will have its own unique quality."
Once again, wool carpeting will play a major role in the design of each branch. Athfield's has developed an unique carpeting system designed to stand up to the daily wear and tear on a bank's flooring, yet allow the Bank signage, poster boards and printed matter, to stand as advertising on an uncluttered background.
Carpeting will be laid in high wear areas, with tiles framing the entryway. The floor will express personality of each branch by utilising three styles of carpeting. Depending on the location and the traffic a light or dark shade of grey, the BNZ "signature carpet" and a future designer carpet in blue and yellow will be sparingly used.
These carpet types can be combined, used separately, and most importantly, replaced easily and cheaply when heavy wear becomes apparent. Both Bremworth and Feltex 100% pure wool carpets have been used in the first BNZ branch renovation at Europa House, Featherston Street, Wellington. The BNZ's New Zealand material use policy continues to favour wool in both carpeting and upholstery.
The Europa House prototype features the other crossover materials that will be used throughout the country: a design system designed to meet specific banking and ergonomic requirements. Ergonomic seating for tellers and typists is all covered in 100% pure wool fabric. Ceramics, pots and tiles in the bank's signature blue tones made by Neville Porteous and a common form of teller unit, easily adapted to the age and style of each bank branch.
Upon first entry to the branch from the street, the inviting interior makes the bank feel cosier and more intimate. To minimise the high ceilings of the Europa House branch, Athfield's used hanging strip lighting and spot lighting on work areas. Some customers may feel more at home not exposing their balances to the harsh glare of incandescent lights.
The branch also shows the zany little touches that make Athfield's a design leader: a blue and yellow zig-zag intices customers to the door where they meet with a blue and yellow door handle. And the Bank's new use of neon makes an important point about Athfield's ideas on outdoor signage.page 39
The bank accepted that more is not necessarily better, said Nan O'Sullivan. Every bank has the problem of internal and external signs competing, but the designer was after lasting good looks. Two major flat frontal signs and one cross-sidewalk sign, all backlit and joined by stripes of neon in blue and yellow has achieved their aim.
Athfield architects wish to develop a personality for each branch and at the same time be flexible enough for change. In the innovative style of the Featherston Street branch, Athfield's create a new image of banking success.