Przystanek mBank



Landmark in a Regenerated City of Industrial Heritage

When AD-Studio was originally approached to design the A+ class office building in Łódź, a city in the centre of Poland with an industrial heritage, the project was a for rent speculative office project. The city had seen a wealth of new investments in its city centre – many clustered around the redevelopment of one of its primary train stations called Łódź Fabryczna – a part of the city now officially called New Centre of Łódź. The spectacular station is now open, and the area has taken on a renewed significance in the life of the city, the development has played a key role in the regeneration of the entire area.

Building on History – Utilizing the Plot Potential

The site covers one entire city block and holds important historical significance for the city. Two 19th century buildings remain on the plot – one originally a foundry and the other the industrialist’s villa. Both buildings needed to be retained – which resulted in a great influence on our design.

The plots’ masterplan constraints determined that the building could be maximum of 6 stories high – but with the other masterplan factors allowing for a substantial build area – the result was a huge permittable floor plate area on each buildable level. The brief at the outset was smaller, however as the design progressed, the optimal strategy that evolved consisted of three buildings located around a central public area that were interconnected with bridges. There was enough plot area to create a generous public plaza in the centre of the plot, that would be both spectacular as well as provide ambient light into each office building. The existing historical buildings were fully utilized and fitted neatly into the overall composition of masses. Due to the technical condition of the structure only the envelope of the former foundry was retained – with the interior being redeveloped into modern office space. The second building, formerly the owner’s residence, is fully protected, so all external features and internal fittings, including the impressive wooden ceilings were retained.

Speculative into Built to Suit

Part way through the design process, mBank signed a lease with the project owners – taking over the whole development as their national headquarters. mBank is Poland’s largest high street bank and already had a strong affiliation with Łódź – with the bonus of excellent location this project proved for them a particularly attractive offering. During the negotiations however, the bank asked to increase the building brief substantially – which change we were able to accommodate through an increase in the floorplates to achieve their goal whilst maintaining the original concept.  The bridges between the buildings were widened creating the additional required usable floor area. The building concept suited mBank as it retained its community feel and openness.

Stability as Required for a Bank

The final building has a solid appearance with punched windows on most elevations.  The ‘holes’ and spaces between buildings are fully glazed for better daylight penetration and contrast to the solid external walls.  At the rear a spectacular fully glazed scoop is removed from the solid form to create a public garden area as well as pull the solid volume away to expose the renovated historical building – giving it space and more prominence.  The concept can be easily appreciated when on site – a hard outside and softer centre. The added bonus of the solid facades was the maximizing of the building fabric performance – helping the building achieve an BREEAM Excellent rating.

A Studied Approach to Functional Adjustment

The primary challenge during the development of this project was the requirement to add the additional area when it became the mBank HQ – without a reduction in the quality of the internal office space. Especially on the lower floors – as the atrium between the buildings would have to become significantly smaller. Additionally – the original distances between the buildings were based not only on light but also on reasonable proximity and the need for visual privacy. However, now with only one tenant in the whole building, privacy became less of a concern and the task was made simpler. To determine how to add the additional area in the way that impacted least on the quality of the office space and to ensure we don’t lose significant quantities of naturally lit office space, numerous studies were made. Eventually a solution was found that generated a rather unique floor plate shape – but one that works very well for mBank’s needs.

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