Private banking group EFG International sought to revamp its outdated office space to attract and retain top talent, reduce real estate size, achieve Ska Gold and future-proof against potential changes in working practices.
Formed in 1995, EFG International offer private banking, asset management and other financial services to their global clients. Having occupied their previous 45,000 sq ft office for the last 20 years there had been very little change to work practices, culture or aesthetics for a significant period. Encouraging employees back into the office post pandemic was going to require significant fundamental change.
AIS responded by creating a flexible, collaborative, and wellness-focused environment that reflects EFG’s brand identity and values. The design features a variety of work settings, amenities and biophilic elements that enhance productivity, comfort and employee and client experiences. The result is a space that sets EFG apart from its competitors and promotes business success.
Client experience is fundamental to EFG and a certain level of impression, hospitality and privacy was essential. Located within the double height space that links the two floors our design solution for the front of house space captured their client requirements whilst showcasing the grandeur of the building’s organic form and dramatic spatial volume.
Recycled plastic pads were installed on the underside of the building’s glazed roof to aid the reduction of acoustic reverberation. Combined with custom manifestation, the resulting biophilic effect within the front of house space is a diffused, dappled light creating the impression of being under a canopy of foliage. A peaceful space within the heart of the bustling city.
Combining built elements and furniture architecture including mechanically articulating canopies, we were able to create pockets of privacy within the double height space without the need for budget prohibitive unsightly sprinkler adaptations. Striking the requisite balance between form and function.
Elsewhere private client waiting areas are tucked away in the corners of the floor plate. Materials and finishes with the highest environmental credentials were selected to create a sophisticated, minimal aesthetic. Soft woods, grey, taupe and desaturated pink fabrics add warmth.
Our design took the team from a traditional workplace, where senior team members occupied offices, into a progressive ‘Activity Based Working’ (ABW) environment that established user functionality as a priority. This approach enabled a reduction in office real-estate requirements from 45k sqft down to 33k sqft, providing extensive savings not only in space, but also material usage, energy consumption and overall carbon footprint.
A fundamental principle of the layout was a strict focus on built elements tightly wrapping the building core, providing a zone along the perimeter of the floorplate that is populated almost exclusively by reconfigurable furniture products and systems. This strategy has been designed to allowing for maximum flexibility and adaptability in the future, allowing departmental neighbourhoods and teams to grow and flex with ease.
At the physical and metaphorical heart of the project, defined and outlined by a protective ring of built spaces, is the staff wellness suite branded as the ‘Club House’. This space has been designed to cater for and support the needs of the EFG employees and offers a series of environments that have been designed to promote health, happiness and overall wellbeing.
Before construction could begin, the existing Cat B fitout needed to be stripped out. To minimise the environmental impact of the project, our approach was firstly to recycle and reuse wherever possible. Much of the existing ceilings, lighting, glazing, mechanical and electrical infrastructure was retained, but where reuse was not possible, a programme of recycling demountable elements such as doors, joinery, lighting and furniture items to charities and educational bodies.
During the construction phase, both the AIS and EFG professional teams maintained a real focus on the products we specified, our design choices and our site processes. All custom designed elements focused on ease of maintenance, with joinery being engineered to be demountable and reconfigurable where possible.
Upon completion, EFG’s new workplace was awarded a Ska Gold rating, which has resulted in various benefits such as reduced environmental impact, lower operating costs, improved occupant well-being and a competitive advantage. Moreover the Ska Gold rating has helped EFG to attract environmentally conscious talent and customers, while a healthier workforce has improved employee retention.
The project helps transform a traditional banking organisation into a modern, flexible and highly productive organisation. Prioritising user experiences by creating a space that caters to the needs and preferences of both EFG’s clients and staff has created a unique and engaging environment that sets itself apart from other banking institutions.