The architecture of governments has long been tied to shared ideals. Built to reflect regional aspirations and communal organizations, parliaments are a unique type of design for legislative bodies. Generally speaking, they include various kinds of deliberative, consultative, and judicial assemblies. Exploring new ideas on the design of government buildings, parliaments are being reimagined to reflect contemporary life.
Usually, a modern parliament has three functions: making laws, representing the electorate, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries. The word itself comes from the 11th century Old French parlement, meaning discussion or discourse, from parler, meaning to talk. But the modern equivalents of parliament have a long history dating back as far as tribalism, where councils made decisions together. There are also ties that extend from Mesopotamia to ancient India, where some form of deliberative assemblies existed. Taking a closer look at the design of parliaments, the following projects showcase contemporary design innovations and what the future might hold for government buildings.
National Parliament of Liechtenstein / Hansjoerg Goeritz Architekturstudio
Following the success of the Hansjörg Göritz Architekturstudio in an international European competition of the year 2000, seven years of planning and implementation are now completed. Today the built exterior and interior spaces manifest not only the interpretation of democratic separation of powers within the Alamannic cultural region of the Alps' Rhine River valley. They also stand for a conscious understanding of an architecture of urban contiguity, whereby the original masterplan of Luigi Snozzi has been newly reinterpreted.
Scottish Parliament Building / Enric Miralles
Ten years after its completion, the reputation of the Scottish Parliament Building is finally being redefined. Among architects and the academic elite, it has long been heralded as a masterpiece of abstract modernism and perhaps the finest work of Enric Miralles' all-too-short career. For the general public, however, it was initially known mainly in infamy for being overdue, over budget, and for having its commission awarded to a non-Scottish architect. Only now is it beginning to receive the public acceptance it deserves, as the genius of the architecture emerges from the shadow cast by its mired construction process.
Sami Cultural Center Sajos / HALO Architects
Sami Cultural Centre Sajos is located in northern part of Finnish Lappland, in village of Inari, on the southern bank of river Juutua. Sajos is the centre of culture and administration for the Sámi, the only indigenous people in European Union. Different functions are packed on their respective wings, leaving a large, flowing space as a lobby in the middle, strongly characterised by the large, round volumes of the parliament hall and the auditorium. There are eight distinct organizations at work in the building.
Parlement Francophone Bruxellois / SKOPE
The new program includes: the seat of Brussels Parliament (PFB : French speaking part) and the restoration of the former Postal Relay (Renaissance 1694) as a polyvalent space. It would have been risky to chose the easy way by the creation of a mimetic building right wing of The Parliament or propose a dissonant solution with a draft bill only contemporary. Skope’s approach was different; inspired by the history of the place while assuming contemporary issues.
Valletta City Gate / Renzo Piano Building Workshop
The ‘City Gate’ project takes in the complete reorganisation of the principal entrance to the Maltese capital of Valletta. The project comprises four parts: the Valletta City Gate and its site immediately outside the city walls, the design for an open-air theatre ‘machine’ within the ruins of the former Royal opera house, the construction of a new Parliament building and the landscaping of the ditch.
New German Parliament, Reichstag / Foster + Partners
The transformation of the Reichstag is rooted in four related issues: the Bundestag’s significance as a democratic forum, an understanding of history, a commitment to accessibility and a vigorous environmental agenda. As found, the Reichstag was mutilated by war and insensitive rebuilding. This retrofit project takes cues from the original fabric; the layers of history were peeled away to reveal striking imprints of the past – stonemason’s marks and Russian graffiti − scars that have been preserved as a ‘living museum’.
Parliament of Victoria Members' Annexe / Peter Elliott Architecture
The new annexe building provides much-needed office accommodation for 102 members of parliament and their support staff. After a century and a half of makeshift and inadequate member’s offices and numerous failed schemes to extend Parliament House, the new building finally solves a long standing accommodation problem. The annexe has been constructed as a separate free-standing building within the eastern gardens.