Open air courtyards and lush gardens are not the usual spaces you come across in a bank around these parts. This was, however the approach, the international design firm, NLE, took in its design of the new Headquarters of Credit Direct Limited, a fast growing microfinance bank and subsidiary of First City Monument bank.
NLE, in their design, sought to create “a more approachable, open and civic space….“, as such, they did away with trends and conventions of contemporary institutional design in Nigeria.
The scheme sees a lush garden on the ground floor where we find a welcoming flight of steps that take the visitor to a raised volume which houses most of the public functions, such as the entrance lobby, an auditorium as well as a service block. This raised ‘first’ level is enclosed within an envelope of cladding that provides shade depth for the spaces, making them much more comfortable in the heat of Lagos afternoons.
The floors above, which cater to more private functions, are wrapped in an envelope of glass that allow for views, ventilation and loads of natural light. This level also features an equally lush roof garden (not very common in these parts) partly overlooking the well lit courtyard, that gives this institutional building a more social and civic ambiance.
The building is finally crowned off with a generous geometrically gymnastic roof, that unfolds over the structure and is also capable of harvesting rainwater (yet another uncommon feature in these parts).
From the lush green to the open and airy atmosphere, the design carries a truly tropical character that allows for an effortless flow between spaces and volumes as well as the outside and inside. It truly redefines a previously rigid building typology, and quite possibly, kickstarts what may hopefully become more of a trend in institutional design.