The Bartlett School of Architecture


Parliament Buildings International Conference

18 February 2021–19 February 2021, 9:00 am–3:00 pm

Image: The Parliament Building Footprints and Chambers of the 27 European Union Member States and the United Kingdom. Source: XML (2016) Parliament, XML: Amsterdam

‘Parliament Buildings’ is a virtual conference and book exploring the architecture of power, accountability and democracy in Europe. This is the second online event of the conference, following the first event in November 2020.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Sophia Psarra


In the face of ongoing political change, confidence in democracy is threatened, calling upon us to rethink our institutions and the buildings in which they are accommodated. Parliament buildings are the symbols and instruments of political life. They shape political culture and the space where the government is held to account; their architecture, history and rituals say a lot about norms of governance and behaviour. With the wide adoption of television coverage and social media, these buildings project political culture outward, changing the scale and speed of communication between citizens and the parliament.

The conference brings together contributions from architecture as well as from political science and political theory, history, law, geography and associated disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. It is part of a wider research project, supported by UCL’s Grand Challenges of Cultural Understanding (GCCU), which will result in a publication and a short film.



Thursday 18 February

09:00: Introduction and Welcoming Address by Uta Staiger, Executive Director of UCL European Institute

09:15: Session: A Parliament Shaped by its Buildings: Innovation and Adaptation at Westminster c.1600-1870

Moderator: Alexandra Meakin, University of Manchester

  • Robin Eagles, History of Parliament
  • Kathryn Rix, History of Parliament
  • Murray Tremellen and Kirsty Wright, University of York

10:00: Discussion

10:15: Coffee break

10:30: Session: Front Stage and Back Stage Politics

Moderator: Sophia Psarra, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

  • Kerstin Sailer, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • François Dufaux, Université Laval

11:00: Discussion

11:15: Coffee break

11:45: Session: History and Contemporary Politics 

Moderator: Uta Staiger, European Institute, UCL

  • Sam Griffiths, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • Tommaso Zerbi, University of Edinburgh

12:15: Discussion

12:30 - 13:15: Lunch break

13:15 - 14:30: Presentation by Professor Jane Rendell

Friday 19 February

09:30: Session: Political Transitions, Sovereignty and Scales of Representation

Moderator: Claudia Sternberg, European Institute, UCL

  • Tormod Otter Johansen, University of Gothenburg
  • Amalia Kotsaki, Technical University of Crete
  • Samuel Singler, University of Oxford, Sofia Singler, University of Cambridge

10:15: Discussion

10:30: Coffee break

10:45: Session: The Spatial Production of Assemblies and Representation

Moderator: Marc Geddes, University of Edinburgh

  • Harald Trapp, UAC Skopje
  • Naomi Gibson and Sophia Psarra, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • Gordana Fontana-Giusti, University of Kent

11:30: Discussion

11:45: Coffee break

12:00: Session: Exhibiting Democracies - Religious and Colonial Assemblies

Moderator: TBA

  • Ahmadreza Hakiminejad, Coventry University
  • Andrew Borg and Michael Zerafa, University of Malta
  • Robin Skinner, Victoria University of Wellington

12:45: Discussion

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch break

14:00 - 15:00: Presentations and Architects Panel

Moderator: Jeremy Melvin, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

  • Paul Monaghan AHMM
  • David Nelson Foster and Partners
  • Benedetta Tagliabue, principal at Miralles Tagliabue EMBT
  • Ivan Harbour, Rogers, Stirk Harbour + Partners

More information

Image: The Parliament Building Footprints and Chambers of the 27 European Union Member States and the United Kingdom. Source: XML (2016) Parliament, XML: Amsterdam