3XN’s Saxo Bank shows a softer side of a beleaguered industry, says Dan Stewart – just stand clear of the lightning bolts…

With bankers now replacing lawyers, journalists and estate agents in the league of most hated professions, the task of designing a bank seems to be changing too.

The Saxo Bank headquarters in Copenhagen, designed by Danish architect 3XN and delivered for just €28m (£25m), is a world away from Wall Street and the City, swapping the aggression of the trading floor for a more communal workplace.

3XN, best known in the UK for its work on the Museum of Liverpool, has created an interior that is organised around the idea of transparency: clean white materials dominate an open, naturally lit atrium. At its heart stands a winding staircase surrounded by sweeping white balconies, reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim in New York.

The facade is of double-curved glass, with strips of white cladding meant to resemble the letter “x” in the bank’s name. The effect, however, is of jagged bolts of lightning – suggesting that perhaps banking’s new friendly image has a little way to go yet.

Original print headline - It’s banking, but not as we know it

Project team

Client Saxo Bank / Carlsberg Properties architect 3XN Architects engineer Ramboll main contractor KPC Byg