‘When we did the design workshops with the bank, we realised that it was important to have that connection and something quite striking here – so when you saw a picture of the reception you’d know that it’s HSBC UK’s reception in Birmingham rather than any of the other global HQs.’
‘I think this had to be different,’ Arron considers. ‘We already had an iconic head office in London – but we were becoming a separate bank, solely for the UK. We could have gone for Canary Wharf part 2, but that would have been an extension of the bank that we already had. This had to be something unique, to reflect the different culture here.
‘Having the lions at the front was a big deal as well. An HSBC head office is only a head office when it has the lions out front! We might be a bit different, but we’re still part of this global family.
‘This is a quirky building in some ways – again, that was part of us wanting to be different – but it was important that, at the same time, we didn’t alienate our traditional customers with the features and the colours – so it hasn’t got a giant slide through the middle of it!’
‘When we were looking to push the current HSBC standards, one concern from the exec board was how those existing customers would feel walking into this new HQ,’ Naomi continues. ‘So we’ve ensured that the formal face of the bank – the ground floor and level 10, which is the client meeting area – is seamlessly finished to align with the base build. When you get onto the workplace floors, we’ve added the more playful elements for the staff.’
The one ground floor facility that does go slightly against the grain is the bright and brilliant 180-seat restaurant. ‘We always had the same kind of restaurants throughout the portfolio,’ Arron tells us. ‘They certainly all had a similar feel with similar finishes. This has a real high street feel – and the food is amazing! Birmingham isn’t particularly known for salad eaters, but we’ve tried to make everything healthier and there are so many options! The salad bar is packed every lunchtime. It looks great and is so busy. We have another café on the 7th floor and we have a great terrace area that people can use.