Savings banks – known as a Sparkasse in the German-speaking world – are typically seen as respectable, traditional, and reputable. What happens when this sort of organisation wishes to pro-actively co-create digitalisation? König + Neurath accompanied this process.
The digital revolution is creating new challenges for banks and Sparkassen: on average, a customer will come to a branch once a year these days. A large share of business is handled online. For this reason, the Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband, Germany’s savings banks association, revised their business strategy two years ago to create more space for personalised consultation and digital offers. For the branch in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, this meant in concrete terms: the rehabilitation of an existing building paired with an add-on were to set the course for the future. The result: modern Team Worlds for the roughly 130 staff.
To bring staff on board for the imminent changes, it was decided to hold a workshop during which the new direction was to be detailed and the teams were to be integrated in the planning. “Planning the new presence first started in 2009”, said the interior architect, Horst Neumaier, whose office was commissioned with the realisation of a modern and inviting communication point. Initially intended as a basic renovation only, the relaunch evolved into the largest investment project in the history of the district savings bank. “In coordination with the Sparkasse, a future-oriented profile of requirements was developed whose overall concept included the modernisation of a pre-war residential building plus the construction of a new edifice”, says Horst Neumaier.
The central default of the design included a flexible room layout, feelgood ambiance and a design that favours the highest possible degree of functionality. Two years of construction later, and the result is a four-storey, breathing building that today has very little in common with your run-of-the-mill bank branch. For once, the Wildkaffee cafeteria integrated on the ground floor invites patrons to linger for a while. There is also a dedicated space that can be used for events and art openings. However, the highlight of the new building is the Kristall conference room on the 4th floor. Designed to emulate a rock crystal, the room is to accommodate conferences and events for up to 20 people. The architect’s essential idea was to create a forum through a design that opens up towards customers, but also towards nature as it presents itself in the surrounding mountain range.
The first port of call is the openly-designed customer hall with its multiple service points. The Sparkasse intentionally decided to integrate the self-service terminals into their daily operations so as to prevent an estrangement from customers. The consultation rooms on the ground floor and on the first floor have been given an almost home-like design that is typical of the region. “The concept is based on a clear separation of workstations and spaces dedicated to customers”, says Neumaier.
NET.WORK.PLACE creates a comfortable ambiance, and the TALO.S system a healthy workstation
The back office composed of single-user offices and an open officescape makes for a flexible, efficient synthesis. Where working in a group is best, the Neumaier design office created so-called Team Worlds which offer integral options for focused working, meeting zones, lounges and media sections. The communication zones were fitted with a modular central zone concept from the NET.WORK.PLACE line. Workstations are composed of a TALO.S desk with motorised height-adjustment, or with the DO.IT 4 table programme.
The workstations are complemented by office swivel chairs from the OKAY and CHARTA lines, whose mechanisms guarantees comfortable, relaxed seating. ACTA.PLUS storage elements organise the Team Worlds. The pull-out sidefiler creates space to conveniently hold documents ready directly at the workstation while offering privacy. The conference spaces are furnished using items from the PLENUM.K and SUMMA ranges, paired with AGENDA conference chairs.
Horst Neumaier is more than satisfied with the overall result. The modernisation has a positive impact on the image of the Sparkasse. It has a more open, contemporary appeal and is better prepared for the many different tasks that lie ahead. The furniture concept was also met with widespread approval from employees. Overall, this new presence benefited the Sparkasse and even contributed to boosting business with new customers.