Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, has opted to invigorate the traditional image of banking through a change in the business and space culture of its offices in the centre of Moscow. A conventional 13-floor building, which has been converted into an open, informal and flexible environment by five architecture studios from around the world.
The Russians IND Architects, Aurora and Adetail, the Swiss Evolution Design and the Russian and Spanish offices of Aecom are the designers of this project, which Actiu has participated in, together with its collaborator in Moscow, Statio Project, with its chameleon-like Stay chair. 7,000 units of a product designed by the Marcelo Alegre studio, Alegre Design, that, through a multitude of variants and versions, inhabits spaces as diverse as meeting rooms, collaborative workspaces or individual booths.
Winner of the Grand Prix Award 2018 and the Best Office Awards 2018, in the ‘Best Agile Office’ category, the project transforms the traditional office model into a transparent and flexible workplace. “Sberbank required flexible spaces, that responded to a work philosophy based on multifunctional and changing teams according to each project and without a pronounced vertical hierarchy”, stated the architects.
Originally designed to house apartments, the floors were very divided. Each floor is 7,500 square metres and can hold up to around 650 people. Its excessive compartmentalization didn’t meet the needs of an open and modern office, hindering the free flow through the space. To solve this problem, the architects divided each floor into four main areas, with a central communication centre with multi-purpose rooms, a library and two kitchens with informal seating areas.
Located next to the windows, the workstations make the most of the natural light, guaranteeing the well-being of the employees.
In order to prevent circulation from distracting the workers, the architects designed what they call a "room in a room” between the work perimeter and in the centre of the building. In addition to separating, these rooms include alternative workspaces that include small meeting areas for brainstorming, open spaces for improvised meetings or individual booths for phone calls or tasks that require concentration.
The new layout enables easy and fast circulation, promoting spontaneous meetings and stimulating creativity and innovation. “The client asked us for an invigorating and welcoming environment, that was committed to multidisciplinary teams and where the vertical hierarchy was reduced to a minimum”, explains Evolution Design. To do this, and in order to facilitate circulation, each of the four main areas have floors, walls and office furniture with a specific colour and graphics.
Pieces of Western manufactured coexist with most of the furniture, made to measure with local material and labour, such as Actiu’s office chair, Stay. Its great versatility in the arms systems and lumbar support, the seat upholstery, its base, plastic or aluminium, and the colour of the structure, enables creating customized solutions for each of the spaces. In the co-working area, its ergonomic nature makes it the perfect chair for informal meetings, along with high tables covered in slate that promote the exchange of ideas and collaborative work.
"The City of Opportunities" is how IND Architects have described their involvement in another of the bank's floors. Inspired by the city's places and inhabitants, the architects distributed the space around a “ring road”, which connects six “districts” of Moscow and facilitates communication.
Just like the Swiss, the Russian studio opted for a flexible design format, which optimizes work, facilitates communication and speeds up processes. “Far beyond design, flexibility refers to the work approach when multifunctional teams come together”, stated the architects. To achieve this, each of the office's six areas contains everything necessary for productive work to be carried out.
Around the two large presentations areas that preside over the space are a games area, a kitchen, various sized meeting rooms, individual booths for calls, work areas with padded furniture and leisure spaces. The wide variety of furniture used enhances concentration and productivity, creating a warm environment that promotes effectiveness and creativity. Ergonomic and adaptable, the Stay chair is back to equip part of this floor's workspaces.
With its new headquarters, the Russian bank Sberbank demonstrates how financial industry offices are becoming increasingly similar to those of technology companies. Spaces that are increasingly free and flexible, where creativity and self-expression play a fundamental role.