The Bartlett School of Architecture


Book Launch | Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe

05 March 2024, 6:30 pm–8:30 pm

Book cover for Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe (UCL Press, 2023)

Join us for the launch of Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe edited by Sophia Psarra (The Bartlett School of Architecture), Uta Staiger and Claudia Sternberg (UCL European Institute).

This event is free.

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As political polarisation undermines confidence in the shared values and established constitutional orders of many nations, it is imperative that we explore how parliaments are to stay relevant and accessible to the citizens whom they serve. The rise of modern democracies is thought to have found physical expression in the stages unity of the parliamentary seating plan. However, the built forms alone cannot give sufficient testimony to the exercise of power in political life.

Parliament Buildings brings together architecture, history, political thought, sociology, anthropology and political science to raise a host of challenging questions: how do parliament buildings give rise to norms and practices, to behaviours, rituals identities and imaginairies? How are their spatial forms influenced by and influence the political cultures they accommodate?

The book offers an eclectic exploration of the complex nexus between architecture and politics in Europe. Including contributions from architects who have designed or remodelled four parliament buildings in Europe, Paul Monghan AHMM, Benedetta Tagliabue EMBT, David Nelson, Foster and Partnters and Ivan Harbour RSHP, it provides the first comparative, multi-disciplinary study of parliament buildings across Europe and across history.

This talk will be followed by a drinks reception. 

This project was supported by UCL Grand Challenges.



Sophia Psarra is Professor of Architecture and Spatial Design and director of the Architectural and Urban History and Theory PhD Programme at The Bartlett School of Architecture. She is the author of Architecture and Narrative (Routledge, 2009), The Venice Variations (UCL Press, 2018) and editor of The Production Sites of Architecture (Routledge, 2019). She works on the relationships between spatial form, embodied cognition, power and spatial practice.

Uta Staiger is Associate Professor of European Studies, Director of the European Institute, and Global Strategic Academic Advisor (Europe) at UCL. Her research sits at the intersection of modern European thought, culture, and politics. She is the co-editor of Memory Culture and the Contemporary City (Palgrave, 2009), Brexit and Beyond. The Future(s) of Europe (UCL Press, 2018) and the special issue Brexit: Past–Present–Future (Global Policy, Wiley, 2021).

Claudia Sternberg is Principal Research Fellow and Head of Academic Programmes at the UCL European Institute. She is a political scientist interested in how ideas, stories or the built environment can help to create or contest political legitimacy, authority and power. She is the author of 'The Struggle for EU Legitimacy’ (2013) and the co-author of 'The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis: Mutual Recognition Lost?’ (2017). Her research has received the UACES Best Book Prize, the Pademia and Theseus Awards, and the Sage Award for Best APSA Paper in Comparative Politics.


Dr Mari Takayanagi is an archivist and historian with a 1st class honours degree in Modern History from the University of Oxford, an MA in Archives & Records Management from UCL, and a PhD in History from King’s College London. Her PhD thesis Parliament and Women c.1900-1945 examined legislation affecting women’s lives and gender equality in the period following the First World War, the role of women in Parliamentary committees including the early women MPs, and female staff in Parliament. In particular she studied the Parliamentary passage to the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which amongst other things allowed women to become barristers, solicitors, magistrates and jurors for the first time. She works full time as a Senior Archivist at the Parliamentary Archives, where she has worked in various roles since 2000 including public services, outreach, preservation and access. She was previously an archivist at LSE Archives for three years. In 2008 she was project manager and curator for ‘A Changing House’, an exhibition and website marking 50 years of the Life Peerages Act 1958 which allowed women to sit in the House of Lords for the first time. She currently is joint project manager and co-curator of Vote 100, Parliament’s project to commemorate 100 years of the vote for some women and all men in 2018. She is on Twitter as @satisfactory20 and occasionally blogs at Parliament and Women in the Early 20th Century.

Níall McLaughlin is Professor of Architectural Practice at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He was a visiting professor at the University of California Los Angeles from 2012-2013, and was appointed Lord Norman Foster Visiting Professor of Architecture at Yale for 2014-2015.

Níall was born in Geneva in 1962. He was educated in Dublin and studied architecture at University College Dublin between 1979 and 1984. He worked for Scott Tallon Walker for four years and established his own practice in London in 1990. He designs buildings for education, culture, health, religious worship and housing. He won Young British Architect of the Year in 1998 and received the RIBA Charles Jencks Award for Simultaneous Contribution to Theory and Practice in 2016. Níall was elected an Aosdána Member for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Ireland and as a Royal Academician in the Category of Architecture in 2019. In 2020 he was awarded an Honorary MBE for Services to Architecture. Níall exhibited in the Venice Biennale in 2016 and 2018 and has been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013, 2015, 2018 and winner in 2022 for The New Library, Magdalene College.

Significant projects from the practice include the Bandstand (Bexhill 2001), Pier Cafe (Deal 2006), Dirk Cove House (Cork 2004), ARC Building (Hull 2005), Goleen House (Cork 2008), Bishop Edward King Chapel (Oxford 2013), Olympic Athletes' Housing (London 2012), Peabody Housing (Whitechapel 2015), Somerville Student Residence (Oxford 2010), West Court Jesus College (Cambridge 2017), The Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre (Oxford 2017) and the New Library, Magdalene College (Cambridge 2022).

Lord Anderson of Ipswich KBE KC (David Anderson) is a practising barrister at Brick Court Chambers (QC 1999) with some 200 appearances in the EU courts and European Court of Human Rights.  He has written and lectured extensively on legal and national security topics, and has wide-ranging interests in European law, culture and history. He has previously served as a Council of Europe human rights monitor and has been associated with the British Association for Central and Eastern Europe, the Slynn Foundation and SSEES. He currently chairs the international conflict resolution charity Inter-Mediate, and sits in Guernsey and Jersey as a Justice of Appeal. He is also a Visiting professor at King's College London. Between 2011 and 2017 David served as the UK’s security-cleared Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. He was knighted in 2018 for services to national security and civil liberties, and appointed in the same year by the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission as a working cross-bench peer. 

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Image: Naomi Gibson-produced with reference to documentation by TU Vienna (2014) and Google Maps.