Westpac, Auckland, New Zealand
Tuesday 22 Jan 2013


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With its water's edge theme, café caravan, and LED store frontage, Westpac's new Signature branchin Auckland is at the forefront of what is happening internationally in retail banking.

Westpac set a vision for creating the best bank in Australasia, one that delivered on Westpac's core value: Help is what we do.

The architecture relates to and explores the ever-changing ebb and flow of the water's edge.

The branch sits on the threshold of Auckland's original foreshore, and the concept is driven from Aucklanders' love of their beaches and waterfront.

In design terms, you cross the edge of the foreshore into the branch, and onto a board walk or wharf that leads you in.  A wave-inspired ceiling wraps around the interior and literally draws you through.

A flock of moving red birds (recreated as Westpac ‘W's) fly under a blue sky hovering over meeting spaces. Amid the birds are 208 white doves - each representing one of Westpac's branches throughout New Zealand.The birds' scene, like other design elements, is eclectic and layered, adding richness to the experience.

The branch design is contrary to what most people associate with banking. By opening it up and making nothing ‘off limits', it lets customers ‘own' the space they are in.

A feeling of warmth and approachability is imbued through a warm colour palette and the pixelated use of timber on its end grain. A framed ‘W' is formed out of the layering of six sands from Auckland's beaches and rivers.

Westpac's brand is reflected through the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, an instantly recognisable symbol of help in the community. A model LEGO rescue helicopter - the largest LEGO structure in New Zealand - takescentre stage.

The café caravan is a Kiwi icon. It symbolises all the nostalgic feelings New Zealanders associate with beach holidays.

The branch offers a full suite of specialist banking including touch technology, 24/7 deposit ATMs, free Wi-Fi, and use of iPads, tablets and a technology help zone for online and mobile banking.

The use of LED technologies at the shopfront creates an ever-changing façadethat emotionally connects with people and draws them in. It is more flexible and dynamic than a traditional shop front; with moving images telling stories about who we are as New Zealanders, for example, the Westpac Rescue helicopter in action, the dramatic cliffs off Pihabeach and the archetypal New Zealand Christmas beach scene.

Context Architects Ltd