By Beverly Pereira
Photography: Daisuke Shima/Nacasa& Partners Inc.; courtesy the designer
The Ekoda branch of Japanese bank SugamoShinkin integrates a cheery appeal in its seamlessly merged interiors and exteriors.
Responding to the expectation of “creating a bank that customers feel happy to visit”, Tokyo-based, French architect, Emmanuelle Moureaux - known to use colours as three-dimensional elements, or layers, to create spaces - lends a cheerful, airy outlook to the interiors and architecture project of the SugamoShinkin Bank, a credit union that prides itself in offering a high level of customer service.
The 574.08 sq. m. site is located in the bustling commercial district of Ekoda with close proximity to heavy traffic and a narrow sidewalk. This led the architect to apply her famed concept of ‘shikiri’ by deftly merging the interiors and exteriors using rainbow hues and spatial division. According to Moureaux, Tokyo’s layers and colours, and Japanese traditional spatial elements like sliding screens have been continual inspirations for this concept.
The building is offset 2 metres from the property line, and 29 sticks - each 9 metres high and painted in a different colour of the rainbow - enliven its timber-decked peripheral space. These sticks are reflected on the transparent, glazed façade, breaking down the visual barrier by mixing with 19 randomly placed sticks inside the building. The result, a rainbow-like shower, aims to inject colour and playfulness in the town.
Visitors get a sense of being in the outdoors even as they enter the building, thanks to the bamboo-lined, glass-encased sunlit café-like space. These ‘courtyard’ bamboos extend towards the sky in unison with the interior and exterior rainbow-hued sticks.
For Moureaux, who aims to stir emotions through the use of colour, the resulting blurred boundaries between the bank’s exteriors and interiors compose four distinct spatial layers reflected on the glazing, and, combined with complex shadows, create depth in this space.