Barclays Bank Headquarters, London, UK

Location: London, UK
Client: Barclays Bank
Architect: HOK Architects, Pringle Brandon Architects
Size: 5 6-story atria
Status: Completed 2004

The new Headquarters for Barclays Bank, designed by HOK Architects with interior outfitting by Pringle Brandon Architects, is located in Canary Wharf, London. Martha Schwartz Partners designed the five interior atria within this new building. Each atrium is six–stories high and is surrounded on three sides by offices that look down into the open space.

The design intention for the atria is to create a unique environment within each while allowing for various functions to occur. Each atrium is designed with three–dimensional installations including hanging artificial materials and floor components of organic plant materials. Each of these five spaces creates a unique address for its six–story surroundings. They also provide choices for how and where the building inhabitants want to work within the building.

For the sixth floor installation, artificial bamboo rods hang from the ceiling at varying angles, while below, a circular seating area is delineated on the floor by bamboo plants. This arrangement allows for vibrant views from above and both privacy and an outdoor view at the floor level.

On the twelfth floor, oversized artificial philodendron and Monstera deliciosa leaves, hang from the ceiling, creating a tropical, jungle–like canopy. Beneath these leaves, actual Monstera plants sit in planters alongside various seating options.

The twenty–fourth floor contrasts the jungle with large, colorful, hanging transparencies of deciduous trees. This abstract deciduous forest is balanced by potted deciduous trees on the floor below. The top atrium of the building takes on the form of a geometric indoor hedge garden with blue and green glass boxes suspended from the ceiling above.

Each atrium is different from the next, yet they all exist as informal breakout spaces, lounges, and gathering points. At night, the spaces are lit to allow the collection of shapes and images to glow on the interior and exterior of the building.