Take an exclusive tour around DBS' astounding headquarters at MBFC Tower 3

Find out the unique aspects of the office where all 18 floors each had hubs, workspaces, and utility rooms.

The DBS headquarters was previously located at Shenton Way. When DBS' multi-year, multi-market strategic occupancy programme was unveiled in 2007, DBS decided to relocate to DBS Asia Central @ MBFC Tower 3.

The move allowed the bank to to integrate over 4,800 DBS employees, mainly from the bank’s customer-facing units, including consumer banking, institutional banking, treasury and markets and wealth management, currently housed in four locations across Singapore, under one roof for greater productivity, efficiency and customer effectiveness.

Design firm Woodhead, which has been operating in Singapore since 2000, was tasked to do a full scope interior design for DBS' 70,000 sqm workplace fit-out. 

Singapore Business Review interviewed Kelly Hiew, Associate and Porject Leader from Woodhead to learn more about the project.

What were the client's objectives for the project?
Create a flagship office of regional significance for DBS and relocate staff from 3 CBD buildings into one office / headquarters at Marina Bay Financial Centre.

What was the brief given?
In terms of the 'functional brief' obtaining the brief was a collaborative and iteractive process. We interviewed all of the business units to understand and record their headcount (current and projected), equipment, storage, privacy, air con, power, security, IT and general facility and operational requirements. We also surveyed/inspected the existing workspace of each BU to obtain a greater understanding of their comments in the interviews. This information was consolidated and scheduled into BU and common facility requirements. The 18 floors were then planned simultaneously to incorporate all the requirements.

In terms of 'design concept' it was important the space represented the message, goals and values of DBS. The Group Strategic Marketing & Communications (GSMC) department within DBS provided an insight into the DBS identity. We worked closely with them to ensure their slogan of 'Living Breathing Asia' was translated into all aspect of the design.

How did the brief translate into the design - architecturally, space planning, material selection etc.?
To meet the 'functional brief', the following spaces were developed and included on every floor:

  • The Hub - meeting rooms, pantry and breakout / collaborative meeting / dining area and reception. Centralised at the main arrival point of the floor these social spaces introduce a new agile work-style to the bank.
  • Workspace - open plan workspace including bench-style workstations, breakout areas and (minimal) enclosed offices. Open and democratic space reflects the structure of the bank.
  • Focus and Utility Rooms - pairs of semi enclosed collaboration spaces and print booths dispersed across the floor. These meeting points provide space for both team interaction and a visible cue to the Bank’s environmental efforts in recycling and conservation (targeting local measure, ‘Greenmark Gold’).

Translating the brief into the 'design concept':
Firstly we identified geographical locations throughout Asia where DBS has a presence. We then used the topographical map of some key locations to obtain a set of contour lines which represented the contours of the DBS 'natural landscape'. These contours were overlaid on the floor plans to give a sense of place to the office environment. 

These 'contours', the natural landscape of DBS, influenced space planning of key areas, along with the floor, core wall and ceiling designs & materials. In the hub areas, the contours are represented on the floor in the hub through a combination of timber, stone and concrete look finishes. On the ceiling they become cloud like contours floating over the landscape below & allowing beams of light to penetrate down through the gaps in between. The ceiling accent contour is deconstructed into many elements, reminiscent of raindrops, and allows the light and air from the sky above softly filters into the

In the workspace, the contours are represented through a detailed carpet. The accent contours continue up the core walls through glass, mirror, film and coloured panels. This contoured landscape became the natural landscape upon which all the built elements of the fitout are located.

What are some of the unique/innovative aspects of the design?
- Contours of Asia design concept (described above)
- The level of careful detailing included in the design, particularly in The Hubs.

  • Timber screens have been used as room dividers and portray a pattern reflective of the marketplace
  • The legs of the pantry island bench are made of objects to suit the concept such as antique vase (flower market), bolts of fabric (textile market), vegetable crates (vegetable market), jars of spices (spice market).
  • We designed the pantry cupboard doors by taking inspiration from traditional Asianwindow shutters and timber carved Chinese cabinetry, and reinterpreting them in a modern way. The doors are glass, timber framed, and each with a different timber inset pattern that has been laser cut and painted black.
  • Antique handles (painted DBS red) have been used on modern cabinetry in the meeting rooms and hub spaces
  • Fabrics are textural and patterned, reflecting the concept and are used in abundance in the hubs and meeting rooms

- The DBS logo appears throughout the fitout and has many uses, serving as both a functional design element and branding accent.


For property design companies who want to submit a project involving recent developments/refurbishments in offices in Singapore, kindly send an email to [email protected] with this subject: SUBMISSION FOR SBR OFFICE WATCH FROM (name of firm). Thanks.

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