The building occupies an entire city block and serves as an important linking element between the various activities which define the neighbouring quarters of the city: retail, commercial, residential, cultural, sport and leisure. Through varying heights a building emerges which gently integrates itself in the existing fabric of the city. In accordance with urban-planning guidelines of 4 to 6 storey, the shallow- plan perimeter building is aligned with the existing streets, complementing the pattern and scale of its surroundings. From the exterior it resembles the traditional city block, whilst at its centre, protected from the noise of the heavily frequented streets, lies the heart of the complex, a large, public courtyard. This courtyard is characterized, but not dominated by the daily operations of the bank itself and fur- ther enlivened by shops, restaurants, cafés, large reflecting pools, extensive landscap- ing and public art. A distinctive, seventy-meter-high building rises from the courtyard, detaching itself through a series of twists and turns from the formal order of the lower, perimeter building, which establishes formal and visual links to the city beyond. The expressive form of the tower refers neither to the styles of the immediate surroundings, nor the orthogonal grid of the post-war city; instead it is a response to the historical downtown geometries to the north. A vast proportion of the building is natu- rally ventilated. The interior is character- ized by design decisions related to the progressive energy concept; superstructure is exposed and windows provide ventila- tion. Areas of ‘double facade’ provide protection against noise and vehicle emis- sions, whilst also serving as a duct trans- ferring clean air from the central courtyard to the individual offices. The large areas of water in the courtyard increase the reflec- tion of daylight and contribute towards a beneficial microclimate. Generous roof gardens not only soften the appearance of the building, they also act to improve the general climate for the occupants, and to collect rainwater for irrigation and use within the building.