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Lemay incorporated warm woods and natural light in the connectFirst offices in Medicine Hat, Canada. Designed by the Canadian firm Lemay, this Medicine Hat branch for Alberta’s connectFirst Credit Union is centered around re-imagining the archetypal banking experience. As our traditions and habits change, space has to adapt with it.

When it comes to traditional banking, shifts towards online transactions and digital services requires that physical space draws people in with designs that not only invite clients in with hospitality, but with thoughtfully considered interiors that a local community can see itself reflected in as well. That led to this transformative approach to office interiors found in the banking industry, where designs imbue a versatile work environment with warmth, comfort, a carefully curated palette and set of textures, pastoral materials, and a transitional style which both expresses a traditional practice while embracing new modes of working, client engagement, and identity.

As its interior plantscapes speak to natural beauty and frame meeting areas with biophilic comfort and privacy from the street, the space’s layouts support informal community gathering while evoking the location’s regional character, capturing landscape and heritage with contemporary yet minimal materiality. Layouts run the gamut from open and sociable collaborative space to shared and private work areas for employees and client engagement, as well as showcases for community events or business seminars. These are framed by laser-cut metal screens which act as both a branding boost by discreetly featuring the credit union’s logo and an elegant visual distraction from more formal areas.

Reminiscent of a high-end café, Lemay’s unconventional approach to a conventional client-facing workplace brings out a sense of curiosity in new customers while those returning can feel at home immediately. A prominent use of oak—highlighted through backlighting—communicates durability, sustainability, and the rich stories of nature told through wood grain while giving the space dulcet acoustics and the rich patina of a place that, while new, will age gracefully over time. Their cocoons and corresponding fins provide an element of safety, comfort and convenience—a humanistic approach to banking and the commonplace teller line.

Use of Fireclay Brick tiles—reminiscent of the breathtaking copper shale hues—ties into the I-XL Brick & Tile factory, an industry that fortified the city’s progress and stands as one of the oldest industrial sites in Alberta. As interior surfaces are clad in materials like pastoral shades of leather and oak veneers, and shades of colour reminiscent of wild grasses to inject the prairie essence within the space, these elements come together to evoke a sense of place and belonging for all users.

Design: Lemay
Photography: Julien Lauzon-Fullum


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