In your space: ASB's new digs shows that banks don't have to be boring

  • In Your Space
  • November 7, 2013
  • Damien Venuto
In your space: ASB's new digs shows that banks don't have to be boring

At the corner of Halsey and Jellicoe streets stands ASB’s new headquarters, a six-storey architectural masterpiece that combines sustainability with modern design to redefine the Wynyard Quarter landscape.

Fletcher Construction Projects, the contractor that completed the structure in July, says the project cost approximately $105 million.

When the final brick was laid, ASB invited the camera-weilding Google Street View team into their building to take snapshots, which were then made available to everyone online.

After the visit from Google, Derek Shortt, ASB's general manager, said, "We are pleased to be able to share our sustainable new home with millions of Google Street View users around the world who can now explore the inside of the ASB North Wharf building online.” 

And he did not use the word "explore" in the figurative sense. All six floors offer unique decorative and structural elements, making a journey up the stairs seem more akin to an exploration than a visit to the bank. Instead of straight-laced meeting rooms, they have incorporated turquoise domes that form part of the open-plan structure of the office space. The overall theme that runs through the building is that corporate doesn't necessarily equal boring, and that visiting the bank shouldn't be an overly formal experience.     

Roger Beaumont, the executive general manager of marketing and communications for ASB, says “we wanted to create a much more open space compared to traditional corporate offices. It was about celebrating and recognising our innovation in the field.”    

ASB's new approach to office space is reminiscent of the playful offices that typify companies such as Google and Facebook, and it seems that the bank is attempting to become more personable and relatable to ordinary people.

According to Beaumont, the new space also allows for easier collaboration. He elaborates on this point by saying, “In the old offices, I sat on the 28th floor and my team was on the fourth. There were 24 floors between us. These days I sit among my team, making it much easier for them to ask me a question when an issue arises.”

Interestingly, Beaumont claims that the new office space has enhanced productivity in the workspace. “By creating an environment where people can collaborate and engage, it results in people solving problems immediately. Instead of sending an email, people bump into each other on the stairs and chat about a problem on the spot.     

In addition to creating a collaboration-friendly space, Beaumont also says,  “Sustainability was incredibly important.”

Rather than relying on conventional means to extract heat from the building, the architects have instead created a complex ventilation system that allows for the air to be expelled through a series of louvers at the top of the building. The extent of heat that is removed will be remotely controlled via computer system, which is dedicated to ensuring that the microclimate within the building is always comfortable. Beaumont adds, “The open windows ensure that we have fresh air, rather than manufactured air-conditioned air.

Fletcher’s website describes how natural light will be sourced, saying “A deflector tongue on top attracts sunlight and deflects it down a shaft to light up the inner spaces, providing a natural light source not dissimilar to a solar light tube.”

ASB's decision to emphasise sustainability follows a trend of several high-profile companies – including Coca-Cola, Chipotle and Nike – that are all trying to portray a greener image. This is something that millenials have a particular interest in, and if ASB wants to win friends in the younger generation then this is a smart step.    

   

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  • Opinion
  • May 29, 2017
  • Susan Young
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