- Written by: Sarah de Villiers
Between Watt Street and Wall Street: Idea Bank for New Financial and Social Transactions; in Wynberg, Johannesburg
Submission by Sarah de Villiers as part of Masters of Architecture Professional Thesis Dissertation at the University of the Witwatersrand:
What if you could spend an idea to earn money?
Investigations into the spatial orders of ‘money institutions’ (including the bank, shopping mall and casino) indicate that they are increasingly experienced as closed protected entities; possibly reflective of concurrent financial barrier-type phenomena which occur at an urban scale. In this somewhat detached enclave, it is all smoke and mirrors: The rules can be broken for the desires of those inside, and keep out the supposed risks of those who are not. Its detachedness is reconstructed through the theoretical perspectives of Michel Foucault and Georg Simmel; this examination providing grasp for spatial tools which, if altered, could recalibrate the way in which privatised spaces open and close themselves to the public.
- How can a reassembly of spatial and psychological thresholds in financial institutions assist in making capital more accessible to everyday people? The results of this research propose a reworked syntax of physical legibilities which make entry, participation and exit in financial systems understandable and therefore more possible. An idea trading floor is designated as the principal programme; where the possibility of intersection of capital, presented by an investor meeting an innovator with an idea is available, in a stripped down form. What if we could sell stocks for entrepreneurial ideas, in a physical space, partly quotidian like that of a supermarket, and partly alluring like a casino?
Various kinds of one-on-one modes of transaction are spatially encouraged, thus attempting to insert an element of humanity in the sometimes highly abstracted realm of venture capital and investment.
Fertile ground for such a transaction point is identified at an intersection in Wynberg, Johannesburg; which currently lies suspended along a highly-trafficked pedestrian movement route between Alexandra and Sandton, and is earmarked for a future transport interchange. The programmes of transaction are vertically punctured by a circulation vein to the proposed bus terminal below the site, revealing the processes of seed capital generation for a passing commuter or visitor:
Ultimately, if capital has a wall around it (literally and figuratively), perhaps architecture could put a door in it; in doing so making cognizant the presence of the wall; and therefore the possibly to transverse through it.
Investigatory Themes: Money Institutions, Financial accessibility, Privatised Enclave, Crowd-funding, Seed capital, Transport interchange, Casino, Stock exchange, Heterotopia, Informal / Formal