A solid in­vest­ment

Identity - - CONTENTS - TEXT: JOANNE MOLINA

FACE Ar­chi­tec­ture + De­sign’s prin­ci­pal re­veals the cre­ative vi­sion be­hind the ren­o­va­tion of the Com­mer­cial Bank of Dubai

The prin­ci­pal of Dubai’s FACE Ar­chi­tec­ture + De­sign re­veals the cre­ative vi­sion be­hind the ren­o­va­tion of Com­mer­cial Bank of Dubai.

Robert Fer­nan­des, prin­ci­pal of FACE Ar­chi­tec­ture + De­sign – and known in the re­gion for his stun­ning work for Anan­tara Eastern Man­groves, Mall of the Emi­rates & The Pyra­mid Club – has trans­formed the Com­mer­cial Dubai Bank of Dubai into a place of respite, tran­quil­lity and op­u­lent min­i­mal­ism, rep­re­sent­ing both the vi­sion of his client and his own pro­gres­sive de­sign phi­los­o­phy.

“Our firm’s main in­ter­est in this project was to cre­ate an op­u­lent pri­vate bank­ing hub in Dubai. Our client’s ide­ol­ogy is pro­vid­ing op­ti­mum bank­ing so­lu­tions in the sim­plest pos­si­ble way; one that aligns with the in­ter­ests of its pow­er­ful clien­tele. We used the idea of op­u­lent sim­plic­ity as a start­ing point, en­gag­ing the project needs through a min­i­mal­ist lens. Our de­sign doesn’t bur­den cus­tomers with frills and pas­tiche in­ter­ven­tion,” ex­plains Fer­nan­des.

The 7000 m2 lux­ury ren­o­va­tion in­cluded a brief that em­pha­sised the de­sign pref­er­ences of the bank’s clients. Coloura­tion, shadow and light played key roles in the de­sign, as did rich ma­te­ri­al­ity and tex­ture.

“‘Ob­sid­ian meets the Mi­das Touch’ was the key idea of the de­sign, set within earthen tones. The jux­ta­po­si­tion of pow­er­ful and re­flec­tive ma­te­ri­als re­sounds in the space quite el­e­gantly. Our use of onyx, traver­tine, brass and leather was meant to in­voke cul­tural par­al­lels with West­ern Euro­pean lux­ury while be­ing ge­o­met­ri­cally ar­ranged to Mid­dle Eastern spa­tial con­fig­u­ra­tions. Light­ing also plays a key part, with part the main spa­ces warm and fa­mil­iar,” says Fer­nan­des.

The Hak floor­ing is par­tic­u­larly strik­ing. “Each el­e­ment plays off the other to ex­hibit the de­sign in­tent; con­ti­nu­ity in the de­sign trans­fers from the floors to the walls and the ceil­ings. The floor­ing in par­tic­u­lar was de­signed to cre­ate a sub­lim­i­nal path­way to guide cus­tomers around the pri­vate bank,” he ex­plains. “The prayer room floor­ing is ori­en­tated towards a pil­lar of light, to de­note the Qi­bla di­rec­tion, rather than us­ing tra­di­tional sig­nage. The cor­ri­dor and tran­si­tion spa­ces play with in­tense changes in pat­tern­ing, ma­te­rial and colour to in­form the user of the im­por­tance of each space in the bank.”

The team at the floor­ing sup­plier, Wood­floors Mid­dle East, also made a huge dif­fer­ence. “[They] have been a plea­sure to work with; in ad­di­tion to the fact that the ma­te­rial qual­ity is un­ri­valled, as a de­signer it was a plea­sure to work with a team that ex­hib­ited an acute un­der­stand­ing of ma­te­ri­als from other dis­ci­plines and dis­played a keen in­ter­est in ho­moge­nously merg­ing [them] into the other de­sign el­e­ments,” he says.

Lesly Lobo, Manag­ing Direc­tor of Wood­floors Mid­dle East, adds: “To turn

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