Dezeen Magazine

Banking conservatory and seating in the Citibank Singapore Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design

Ministry of Design creates lush "banking conservatory" for Citibank Singapore

Offices and meeting rooms are nestled among tropical plants in this wealth management centre in Singapore by local studio Ministry of Design.

Conceived as a "banking conservatory", the verdant scheme won an international competition launched by Citibank Singapore last year that invited entrants to reimagine the conventional interiors often associated with financial institutions.

Metting pods in the Citi Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Ministry of Design has created a conservatory within the Citi Wealth Hub

The brief set out by Citibank was to create a wealth management centre dedicated to its high net-worth clients, over an area of 2,787 square metres across floors six to nine of an office building on Singapore's Orchard Road.

Across its four levels, the Citi Wealth Hub has more than 30 client advisory rooms alongside flexible office and event spaces, making it the bank's largest wealth advisory hub in the world.

Aerial view of plant-filled Citibank Singapore office with garden pods
Levels seven and eight are filled with sinuous brass planters

The site is distinguished by its soaring atrium with tinted glass walls and skylights that create ideal conditions for growing tropical plants.

In recognition of this, the studio proposed an office scheme based around a lush conservatory that would anchor the entire office.

Seating alcoves in the Citibank Singapore Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Seating alcoves are nestled into the greenery

On floors seven and eight, a series of social spaces are nestled within the greenery, including a bar, observation deck, garden pods, banquette seating and a central garden lounge with a honed Grigio Carnico marble bar.

"The choreographed verdant and lush greenery evokes an atmosphere where everything seems to flourish in a natural and sustainable manner – a nod to the ideals of wealth management," said Ministry of Design's (MOD) director of development Joy Chan Seah.

Exterior of meeting pods in the Citi Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Garden pods replace traditional meeting rooms

"Although drawing from the virtues of biophilic design, the scheme aims to create a cultured conservatory and not a wild forest," she added. "Introducing a measure of control and order amidst nature's abundance, we created a series of carefully detailed planter box arrangements."

These sinuous, hairline brass containers are lit from below to signpost pathways and meeting spaces among the foliage.

Interior of the garden pods in Citi Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
They are outfitted with TV screens and acoustic panels

On the seventh floor, garden pods were installed as an alternative to traditional meeting rooms. These are lined with acoustic panels and equipped with curved TV screens, concealed power points and cables for connecting laptops.

In collaboration with landscape architecture studio ICN Design, MOD carefully selected plants that would adapt easily to an air-conditioned environment, thrive even in the shade and create four distinct vertical layers to offer varied views at every level.

Illuminated planters in the Citibank Singapore Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
The planters are lit from below to help signpost pathways

For the tallest level, the designers selected betel nut feature palms, while elegant, feathery parlour palms sit below their crowns at the second level with bushy saplings and big-leafed arums in the foreground.

Feathery Boston ferns, rosette-leafed bird's nest ferns and money plants occupy the lowest level, fringed by jungle-floor plants that are spotlit at night.

Marble planters on level eight of Citibank Singapore Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Marble planters decorate the eighth floor

The eighth floor is dedicated to Citigold Private Clients, leading the design team to opt for more luxurious materials such as walnut and marble, while an observation deck offers aerial views of the conservatory on the level below.

Since this floor is less open to natural daylight, the planting here is smaller in both the horizontal and vertical scale, with planters set between desk alcoves and pathways.

Marble planters and walnut wood walls on level eight of Citi Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Walnut wood lines the walls to create a high-end finish

Floors six and nine were conceived as "backstage areas" offering office space for the bank's 210 relationship managers.

They hold a variety of hot desks, collaboration tables and a town hall for meetings.

Breakout areas in Citibank Singapore Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Collaborative tables are fringed in planters

Large planters help create a calming work environment on these levels and are filled with shade-loving plants that, in the wild, would grow low on the rainforest floor.

Throughout the office, the temperature of the lighting is programmed to mirror human's natural circadian rhythm and the movement of the sun, changing from blue to reddish undertones over the course of the day.

Marble reception area of Citi Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
A marble reception centres the eighth floor

To keep the plants healthy the project uses a hydroponic system, in which plants are held in place by absorbent granules instead of soil.

Grow lights with special LED bulbs that mimic natural sunlight are integrated within the recessed architectural lighting.

Office space Citibank Singapore Wealth Hub by Ministry of Design
Integrated lighting follows humans' circadian rhythm

"We've had really good responses from Citibank and from their clients so far," the studio said. "They've said this is unlike any other wealth management hub they have seen."

Studies have shown that access to green spaces, or even pictures of nature, can benefit workers' mental health and improve performance in the office.

As a result, a plethora of plant-filled workplace interiors have sprung up over the past few years, including this co-working space in Lisbon with over 1,000 potted plants and trees, while tropical flora provides privacy for workers inside an office in Utrecht.

Photography is by KHOOGJ.