The well-heeled stepping into the new Citi Wealth Hub on Orchard Road may wonder if they walked into someone’s garden by mistake. Which is exactly the point, as Ministry of Design has designed the space for Citibank’s Citigold and Citigold Private Client customers to be more conservatory thanbanking hall.
The recently opened Premier Private Client centre at OCBC Centre has the same idea, looking more like a posh hotel lounge. OCBC Bank’s Sunny Quek, head of consumer financial services Singapore, explains that it’s in line with new customer expectations. “Our customers have gone beyond banking,” he says. “They’re looking for a banking relationship that is built on trust through personalised financial advice and access to exclusive experiences.”
Citi Wealth Hub
268 Orchard Road
Colin Seah, founder of Ministry of Design, remembers clearly the light bulb moment for the design of Citi Wealth Hub at 268 Orchard Road.
He was shown the site which has a soaring glass-lined atrium which inspired his idea for a banking conservatory.
Opened in December 2020, Citi Wealth Hub is dedicated to its Citigold and Citigold Private Client customers. Citibank Singapore received design proposals from architectural firms across the region.
“As our first time designing for a bank, we had no preconceived notions about what the space should be,” says Mr Seah, who’s famed for designing hospitality projects.
“I saw this as an opportunity not to fill the space with meeting rooms, but to create something less conventional, while still meeting the brief of creating a world-class wealth management centre.”
Spread over four floors of the building, levels seven and eight offer an immersive, lush and thriving indoor conservatory for high net-worth banking clients, while levels six and nine provide a conducive working environment for its relationship managers and wealth specialists.
“The lush greenery evokes an atmosphere where everything seems to flourish in a natural and sustainable manner,” says Mr Seah.
On level seven, the 9,278 sq ft light-filled lounge area is surrounded by tropical palms and ferns, selected for their ability to thrive in an air-conditioned environment. The plants grow in brass metal planters that have been carefully placed to allow for pathways and meeting spaces to be carved out within the landscape.
A key highlight of this space is also the four garden pods in place of conventional meeting rooms. The pods are fitted out with fabric panels for better soundproofing and acoustics. Clients can admire the greenery from inside the pods, through glass slats on the top of the pods.
While level seven has an airy, garden-like ambience, level eight has a more luxurious feel, starting with the marble reception counter, selected to showcase the beauty of the natural stone. Just like level seven, the 5,963 sq ft space is also filled with tropical plants but this time, housed in stone planters.
Even though there are several cosy areas, the prized spot to be at is at the viewing deck, which allows clients to look down onto the entire banking conservatory.
Move over Jewel Changi Airport. Singapore’s prettiest indoor garden is now on Orchard Road.
Private Client Centre
65 Chulia Street
When OCBC Bank was designing its Premier Private Client centre several months ago, it turned to its heritage for inspiration, which resulted in the 10,000 sq ft space having a East meets West look.
Located on the 34th floor of OCBC Centre, the space has two outdoor terraces – one which overlooks the Chinatown area while the other has a clear view of the CBD and Marina Bay.
“Inspired by the panoramic views and our penchant for art, the ‘East meets West’ design approach features wood, metal, and natural stones in the key material palette,” says OCBC Bank’s Sunny Quek, head of consumer financial services Singapore.
Upon entering, clients are welcomed into the lounge area that is lightly perfumed with the Centre’s customised scent from Scent by Six. The lounge area offers a view of the terrace overlooking Marina Bay, which is filled with Mediterranean plants, including olive trees.
To make the space more approachable, the bank has done away with a conventional reception counter. Instead, the service staff, who are former aircrew members, sit behind low wooden tables.
The Centre’s 16 private rooms, which are named after cities that OCBC Bank operates in, fill the rest of the space. Those facing the Marina Bay area have a more contemporary look, while those that face Chinatown have a more Oriental feel.
The Centre also comes with its own kitchen, where clients get to dine on a local menu, without the need for a caterer unlike before.
The bank worked with local interior design firm Upstairs_ for the creation of the space. Other homegrown companies that it worked with include floral boutique The Humid House and Roger&Sons for some of the furniture.
UBS Client Lounge
9 Penang Road
When UBS Singapore brought together its Singapore-based business under one roof at 9 Penang Road in late 2020, it took the chance to also create a spacious and spanking new lounge for its clients. Its former client lounge was at One Raffles Quay, where the Swiss bank also had an office.
UBS Singapore country head, August Hatecke, says “we have carefully planned a client journey that aims to bring the best of UBS to our clients”.
Clients are ushered to the client floor lo-cated on the sixth storey of the building that was formerly Park Mall. Clients can meet up with their advisers in stylish meeting suites, named after currencies or precious stones, that either overlook Fort Canning Park or Orchard Road.
Before and after their meetings, clients can also enjoy a cup of coffee at lounge areas that dot the sixth floor. Marble and dark woods lend a luxurious feel, exuding a feeling of warmth and hospitality.
Jazzing up the walls of the meeting rooms and corridors are artworks from the global UBS Art Collection. UBS has been an active contemporary art collector since the 1960s.
Besides the client lounge, the building also houses offices for UBS’s 3000 staff, UBS University, its Cyber Fusion Centre and its APAC Innovation Lab.
This article was originally published in The Business Times.