Modular Banking Architecture

In a future of post or trans-nationalism its usually thought that the city will no longer exist. The decaying of political borders would eventually result in a kind of entropy - technology would allow most of us to never have to move our whole lives, we could live, work and consume from a single place and the city would decay and flatten in tandem with the centralised power structures of nationhood it represents.

However, futurists often fail to learn from history: The technological revolution that bought about the growth of the financial services in the wake of the Third World debt crisis of 1982 didn't flatten and widen the financial field and the city. It did connect more people to the markets faster as the communications tech promised but it resulted in huge, disparate concentrations at sites in London, New york and Tokyo. Special tax zones were set up to encourage these sites as hubs for global finance and they continue to grow, both in physical mass but also in terms of profit revenue.

The financial sector loves mergers and centralisation. The 2000 merger of Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels exchanges into Euronext boosted trading profits massively in the Euro sector. Subsequent mergers with London Futures opened the range of products and the 2007 merger into NYSE Euronext have allowed the operation to stay open 21 hours a day for trading.

The financial services rely on these centralised structures. The agents of the markets orbit them as satellites but it is vital from symbolic and practical angles that there remain a central, core hub.

These hubs become direct architectural and physical interactors with the market. Their gleaming towers are centres and symbols of wealth, they occupy the same arena of foreground architecture as government buildings and cathedrals as symbols of power. When a bank fails, they are abandoned, workers spray from the main entrance, box of possessions in their arms and march away to other lives. In worse cases, as in Indonesia in the 90s, the collapse of massive outside investment simply results in abandoned construction projects for financial businesses still standing as symbols of economic collapse.

For banks, these architectural follies are expensive and for cities they are unsightly, embarrassing and often persist as social problems. If national borders fell and the political arena ceased to meddle in international affairs and economics it would be desirous for the banks to move and flow themselves freely around the world as they do in the hyperreal space of the financial services - probably the world already most distant from nationalistic ideals. This would allow them to maintain their hubs but to construct, maintain, deconstruct and move them in response to the fluctuations of the markets.

The new modular architecture of the banking hubs would allow them to move around the world in response to the markets. The collapse of a market in one part of the world would begin a process of downsizing and moving of resources to where more financial activity was happening and where greater profits could be made. The financial services would retain their hubs but these hubs would be naturally evolving based on the market algorithms and not fixed geographically by the whim of government.