Case Study: Bank Muscat
A new concept for Oman that blends traditional and modern architecture
Architect: Atkins, MACE
Client: Bank Muscat
This project is designed to serve as a central hub for Bank Muscat, a financial services provider with offices scattered throughout Oman’s capital. The headquarters will eventually be home to 2,000 employees, and was designed to provide a functional and attractive building firmly rooted in the Omani context. Security measures were also paramount, given that the building is a fully operational bank as well as a workplace.
As a growing company with offices in multiple locations in Muscat’s Central Business District, Bank Muscat wanted a headquarters close to the city’s airport and away from downtown. The site is some 15 minutes drive from the airport.
In fitting with Oman’s architecture, both modern and traditional, the building is low rise and arranged in L and U shapes to create shaded courtyards, one of which is home to a Moroccan-style garden, and another forms the main entrance. The exterior is modern with traditional Omani and Arabic themes. While glass is used widely, some windows are part-obscured by patterned screens and some of the the facade features terracotta tiles. Also reflecting Arabic style, water features and greenery are prevalent.
The internal arrangements combine the aesthetics of modern architecture with the functional requirements of a contemporary bank building. On the ground floor the building features an internal street, with coffee shops and restaurants.
Mace project manager Naveed Haque said that while some aspects of the design were challenging, the final result has made the effort more than worthwhile. “For me, this street and the glass bridges over it are the most successful part of the design,” he said. “The build challenges were worth it because the outcome is the direct interaction between the personnel working in the building and the public. This active interface brings life and vitality to the building”.
Lead architect Rohan Thotabaduge explained that the building incorporated a number of sustainable initiatives, including anti-sun green low E-coated glass from manufacturer Pilkington. Bathroom taps and WCs work by sensors, while electric lighting automatically dims as the sunlight increases. “18m maximum office floor spans allow the optimum amount of daylight into the building,” Thotabaduge said. “The external mashrabiya screens are decorative, letting light through but also creating shade to help cool the building.”
Combining the functions of a branch bank with a flagship corporate head office created some critical challenges. After all, members of the public will be within a high security building. “There was a need to integrate specialist security measures into the design and build, and this proved to be very complex,” explains Haque. “The specific security measures required by the bank needed to be addressed at the outset and continually refined.”
“The finished building has pushed some architectural boundaries in Oman” says Thotabaduge. “The country often seems to play safe with new buildings simply copying the old. Here we have used the patterned external screening to produce a new interpretation of the mashrabiya. This combined with the vibrant internal street has produced something really different.”