New Designing for Democracy blog series

Posted on October 17th, 2017 by Alexandra Meakin

The Crick Centre hosted a week-long special blog series as part of its Designing for Democracy research and public engagement programme.

As part of our Designing for Democracy research and public engagement programme, the Crick Centre has commissioned and published a special series of blogs on the design of parliamentary buildings and the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster.

The blog series contains contributions from Designing for Democracy advisory board members from political science, history, psychology and architecture, discussing how the design of parliamentary buildings affect behaviour; how parliamentary buildings are viewed as symbols, and previous plans to restore the Palace of Westminster. In addition, Professor the Lord Blunkett, Chair of the Crick Centre discusses his experience of how the Palace of Westminster casts a “spell” on those working within it:

When I went into the House of Commons for the first time as a Member of Parliament in 1987, I was struck by the way in which even the most radical of MPs (and I use the term generically and not just confined to the Labour Party), found the allure of the building and its atmosphere almost too much to take.

To use an outdated phrase “grown men almost wept”, talking about the history, the majesty and the pride they felt at being there.  It was as though a spell has been cast on them.

The full list of the blogs in the series is below:

The Rt Hon Professor the Lord Blunkett, The Crick Centre, University of Sheffield: The Allure of the Palace of Westminster is More Than Even a Radical Spirit Can Take

Dr Richard Simmons, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL: What if we could make the Houses of Parliament safer and more beautiful?

David Judge, University of Strathclyde, and Cristina Leston-Bandeira, University of Leeds: You don’t walk past this building saying, “That’s a big impressive building, that’s a parliament.” You walk past saying, “Why?”’

Paul Seaward, History of Parliament Trust: Oblongs and Hemicycles: Ideology and the Design of Legislative Chambers

Stephen Thornton, Cardiff University: ‘Even Big Ben has outlived its use’: Cedric Price and the Pop-Up Parliament

Ashley Weinberg, University of Salford: Building a Democracy: Psychological considerations for design of political spaces

Palace of Westminster

Image courtesy of DAVID ILIFF via Wikimedia Commons and reproduced under license CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Designing for Democracy programme is led by Professor Matthew Flinders, Director of the Crick Centre. To collaborate with the programme or for further information, contact

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