Banking is an experience which tends to cause stress to most women. The environment inside a bank branch is expected to be sterile, stiff and formal at best. This reality is what makes The City Alo Flagship Branch unique and first of its kind in the city. Right next to the busy Gulshan Avenue, this office space-cum-coffee lounge is a quiet little oasis for those in need of a respite from exhausting day-to-day life.
The City Alo Flagship Women Branch Design Project was commissioned to the Tanya Karim N.R.Khan & Associates architectural firm, also known as TKNRK. The design team emerged as a registered partnership in 1993 and has gone on to provide a vast range of international quality services to a wide ranging clientele. The works of TKNRK have been nominated and has won various prestigious national and international awards and they have been published widely both at home and abroad.
Aside from Tanya Karim and N.R.Khan, the project architect for the City Alo Flagship Branch was Shahnaz Masud. According to the project architect, City Bank has been an old client of TKNRK. As a client, they have always been very forward thinking. The City Alo Flagship Branch was also a result of such vision.
Their idea was so make sure the branch was absolutely unlike a stereotypical bank branch. Instead, they wanted a cafe branch that offered utmost comfort to their female customers. This idea is the foundation that the architects built upon and did so with copious enthusiasm.
City Alo is the dedicated women banking division of City Bank. The bank has partnered with Gloria Jean’s Coffees to place a kiosk in the branch premises. According to their vision, customers can just walk into the branch office, grab a relaxing cup of coffee and get their banking requirements met by the relationship managers, no need to wait on a queue.
They can even choose a book to flip through or even use the wi-fi to catch up with their work. As women tend to multi-task, a suitable atmosphere to ensure their focus was made. These kinds of Cafe Branches are seen in other countries like the USA, Singapore and Malaysia.
But it is quite a unique concept in Bangladesh. The construction work of the City Alo Flagship Branch started from November 2019 and was opened only recently. The rejuvenating aroma of roasted coffee is the first thing that you will notice when entering the branch. The artfully decorated lounge-like space presents a calming façade. It will be evident from the first moment that this is going to be the most relaxing banking experience of your life.
One’s expectation of encountering a busy workspace is instantly transformed into astonished appreciation at encountering this cozy, spacious bank branch wrapped in the disguise of a cafe.
5,811 square feet of the ground floor includes tasteful seating arrangements, muted lights, instagram-worthy wallpapers and experimental woodwork that only adds to the warmth factor. Little splashes of colour here and there add to the feminine feel. Greenery is almost a prerequisite in instantly upping the comfort factor of a space and adding visual pleasure.
The plush couches also make you feel relaxed. The architects strived to create a ‘Shabby-Chic’ look with some classical elements and some rustic elements in the design. The place has a soft, yet adequate lighting. Lack of a false ceiling makes the space look large and airy. Almost all the material used in the decor is locally sourced.