Providing insurance services across the world, Lloyds Bank has launched a new office in Dubai’s financial district designed by Artillery Architecture and Interior Design, and fitted out by ISG. According to the design team, the idea was to use certain aspects of the Lloyds brand as well as prominent features of its historic headquarters in London, England. An example is the long corridor in the DIFC office, inspired by Lloyds' London office, which has a large number of managing agents in an open plan, with each agent having signage to identify their area within the space. Additionally, Artillery applied the high contrast of black and white corporate colours to connect the space with its inhabiting company.
Stuart Allen, director of Artillery Architecture and Interior Design, explains, “The approach to Lloyds’ design concept is to create a highly recognisable Lloyds facility of high-design standard, commercial functionality, global consistency and inspire the overall global vision. A Lloyds’ project is truly collaborative in approach to create a design of strong forms, refined ideas to provide a solution that is architecturally, socially and intellectually coherent.” The DIFC office includes architectural elements, such as a highly visible reception area and business lounge with flexible, shared meeting rooms. Additionally, managing agents are located near the reception area across two floors, connected by a marble and black-glass staircase.
According to Ramez Refaat, project manager, ISG, the internal steel structure staircase connecting both floors was critical to the client’s brief. In delivering this aspect, ISG collaborated with the client representatives, project management firm, interior and structural consultants, a steel structure specialist and a civil trade contractor to finalise the necessary details.
The reception area consists of two shared meeting rooms and a café area for all staff to use. This area was designed to serve staff and visitors as the central hub of the office, allowing all to meet, mingle and work. In addition to serving a functional purpose, the reception area also reflects the feeling of the historic main Underwriting Room in the London office. The area can be further expanded for social events and functions by opening the foldable partition walls of the meeting rooms.
“The social and connecting areas display Lloyds’ and the Middle East’s historic artefacts that support and reinforce the growth and strength of the global brand in new markets and accessibility of this 325-year business,” says Allen. “Lloyds offers a highly supportive environment and strategy for reception, IT, media, storage, furniture and coordination of the individual requirements of the managing agents.
“The standout features are the strong forms and refined detailing of the business lounge, the connecting staircase and illuminated signage totems, creating a calm inviting Lloyds environment that is well-organised and accessible and a perfect counterfoil to the urban desert of Dubai.”
Staying consistent with Lloyds corporate identity, Artillery applied a high-contrast black and white colour palette, which is most evident in the reception area. The reception design is framed with a black powder coating that matches that of the glazed partitions. The design team also used glossy, white marble for the flooring, which contrasts strongly with the black back-painted glass on the walls. Providing an accent to the interior design, the reception coffee area joinery boasts a bright red, while shades of grey were used in the carpeting to define the circulation of space and division of the managing agents’ offices. Grey was also applied in the meeting rooms to provide better acoustic properties in the space.
According to Refaat, some of the most popular design elements include the red joinery cabinets, which work well with the standard black-and-white, as well as the “Barrisol ceiling in the shared common visitor area and the meeting rooms which can be split to smaller spaces or joined to form one big welcoming space for Lloyds’ events.”
According to Artillery, the key challenges were reflecting the brand identity consistently throughout the office space without compromising the individuality of the managing agents’ spaces. It was also a challenge to provide each managing agent with a sense of importance regardless of where their individual space was located throughout the office.
For ISG, the main challenge was in delivering the staircase, as the fit out team had to remove a complete floor space section and reconfigure the structure to accept the new staircase. Refaat explains, “This particular feature included the cutting of the existing steel structure slab, removal of the debris of the three main steel beams, installation of two new main steel beams and a number of secondary steel beams to form the staircase void…then the application of the specified finishes on the formed staircase area of black back-painted glass on the side walls.
“All the associated noisy works had been performed during the night shifts and weekends as per DIFC building procedures to facilitate a business-as-usual working environment to other tenants during the normal working hours.”
Both sides of the design are quite pleased with the outcome. According to Allen, collaborating with Lloyds, the managing agents, and design and construction teams to create the high-design quality is one of the major unseen elements. He says: “Lloyds are operating from its new platform in the DIFC to provide tailored risk solutions across the Middle East, enabling the opportunity to build stronger relationships and deeper risk insights in an important growth region.”