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edition 4 (229)
April 2018
Office & mixed-use development

Banking on modernity

Aneta Cichla

Banking on modernity
Elżbieta Witkowska-Hasny, is responsible for the design of BGŻ BNP Paribas’ new headquarters

POLAND BGŻ BNP Paribas bank is following in the footsteps of other financial institutions that have recently changed their offices. Aviva has leased modern space in the Gdański Business Center complex in Warsaw and MBank has moved into Przystanek MBank, which was built by Ghelamco Poland in Łódź. Now BGŻ BNP Paribas plans to bid farewell to its 1990s office building in mid-2020 and is to move to the Lixa building, which is under development by Yareal in Warsaw’s Wola district.

Flexibility or functionality

A completely new space is to be created for the bankers, which is to accommodate the employees of two current Warsaw locations – ul. Kasprzaka and ul. Suwak. The building is to be erected on a plot owned by Yareal at the junction of ul. Kasprzaka and ul. Karolkowa. Currently the former headquarter building of Kredyt Bank stands on the site, which is to be transformed by the development of an office complex. “We will be the sole tenant of one of the buildings and will have an area of 22,000 sqm,” says Elżbieta Witkowska-Hasny, the transformation programme leader at BGŻ BNP Paribas, who is responsible for coordinating the project. The new building has been designed with attention paid to every detail with its interiors having been drawn up by Massive Design in consultation with a designated group of the bank’s employees. “From the very beginning we focused on creating a so-called flex office, which provides great flexibility and a comfortable working environment at the same time. We want our employees to be able to sit down anywhere within their department. Wherever it is feasible for our departments we will be introducing hot desking. There will be fewer work stations but more opportunities to work from home. A flex office also makes it possible to adjust teh office space in line with changes made to an organisation. The number of employees in a particular department can vary: one division may shrink, while another may grow and they might not necessarily operate in the same field. So, we don’t want to change the layout and furnishings but to move employees and teams to areas that suit their needs, and a modular system allows for this,” argues the head of the project. In the new headquarters the layout of each floor will be replicated: the centre will be a shared kitchen, which can be used as a workplace due to the installation of plugs, sockets and chargers. Meeting rooms will be identically located on each level next to the elevators. The new headquarters includes co-working space, two types of meeting room: those that must be booked in advance and those that can be used for ad hoc meetings or training sessions with libraries and relaxation areas. The office will be filled with telephone booths and acoustic panelling to minimise noise. On the ground floor there will be a canteen and an auditorium for 240 people (both open to the public) as well as a bank branch. Employees of the bank have been involved in the arrangement. “We have carried out an internal survey to ascertain the requirements and expectations for our new workplace. A group of our employees representing various departments actively assisted in the interior design and selection of the themes for the kitchens and conference rooms. We’ve provided them with the opportunity to share their opinions and express themselves although we keep their proposals in check in terms of costs,” explains Elżbieta Witkowska-Hasny. The bank has not disclosed the budget for the project. The architectural design of the building is by Hermanowicz Rewski Architekci and it will comprise a twelve-storey tower with two lower wings. It is also to become part of a complex built around a green inner patio. BREEAM ‘Excellent’ certification is being aimed at for the building.

Tried and tested technology

The building is to be packed with the latest technology. However, the company wants to use tried and tested solutions, to eliminate errors and avoid the chaos of moving to a completely new type of space. “In order to test all these innovative systems, we are redeveloping our office in Kraków in the Awatar building owned by Azora International. We have prolonged our lease and we want this area to be flex office space using the concepts that we might later apply in our new Warsaw headquarters. We are trying out integrating the room booking system with the diaries of those taking part in the meetings as well as the so-called virtual room that you ‘dial into’. We want to test out these systems in Kraków. We’re also assuming that these systems might change because what we are currently testing out could be out of date in three years time,” points out the head of the project. The company is also considering trying out a smartphone app to open the doors but it is also looking into biometric systems such as face recognition. Navigation systems are being trialled for the building, as well as car-sharing and shared parking – along with the mobile apps that support them. Motion and sound sensors to turn off the lights and air conditioning in empty rooms also appears promising.

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