Viewing the Market: The Spatial Dimension of Trading Spaces

Pe-Ru Tsen


This paper explores the architectural design of trading spaces in the interplay between space, communication and technology. Trading activities in the financial industry are considered a distinctive example of knowledge work strongly driven by communication and collaboration. Following the rise of telecommunication and information technology in the last decades, trading activities have become mainly electronic and highly time-critical today. The new trading environment allows traders to trade from remote trading spaces without interacting with their market counterparts face-to-face any longer. Connected via screens and other technological devices worldwide, the organisational and social dynamics of trading activities have, thereby, fundamentally changed. The key research question of this paper concerns the importance of face-to-face communication and physical proximity of traders in modern trading spaces, and their implications for trading room design, as state-of-the-art technology has globally transformed the access to market information and market participants. The paper looks both at traditional trading spaces of financial exchanges, in which trading activities are conducted face-to-face, and modern trading spaces of financial firms, in which traders interact with market counterparts via electronically mediated communication. The analysis of these two different settings concludes that the increasing use of technology has not made face-to-face communication and physical proximity of traders obsolete but even more important for technology-intensive trading activities. The abundance of market information and the complex decision-making process makes close human collaboration and highly transparent spaces essential in order to effectively assess market situations and act accordingly without delay. The architectural design of trading rooms, therefore, needs to accommodate both for face-to-face communication and face-to-screen communication.


trading rooms, financial market, knowledge work, space, technology, workplace studies

Full Text: JOSS_2011_p54-72.pdf