Democratic Monument

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Commissioned by the Architecture Fringe as part of New Typologies (curated by Lee Ivett and Andy Summers) under 2017's core programme, Democratic Monument is a proposal for a new kind of Town Hall for British cities. It re-groups various civic functions into one visually symbolic composition of architectural forms that reconfigure and express varying references, ornament and allusions, depending on the metropolitan area it is situated in and embodies. It is an expression of urban pride, chromatic joy, and architectural complexity.

This project was generously supported by Lee3d

What Town Halls are, their names, their forms, their programs, and the way they relate to the public and the city has changed dramatically over the centuries, with each new incarnation absorbing lessons from the last, and building up a rich legacy full of successes and lessons that can be brought forward into future manifestations.

The 1800s was an era of dramatic change, tumultuous growth, vigour, and pride for British cities, all of which was anchored and guided by the Victorian Town Hall. Liberal Mayors across the country spearheaded reforms, and massive urban improvements that transformed the lives of those living in the new metropolises. Huge resources were funnelled through local government, with half of all national public spending being dispensed from Town Halls. As well as directing public improvements, better schools, infrastructural provision and housing programs, these homes of local government themselves became symbolic embodiments of their respective cities. Their eloquent facades spoke of civic pride, communal purpose, economic strength, and artistic verve. Their interiors contained multipurpose halls, whose size and opulence made Buckingham Palace seem twee and quaint, and which were used for events and meetings whose purpose was the pursuit of public betterment through the spectacle of public art and democracy, rather than the pageantry of an isolated monarchy.

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