BJ.PoLS.

18, 287-302 Primed in Great Britain

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The Architecture of Parliaments: Legislative Houses and Political Culture
CHARLES T. GOODSELL
The architecture of houses of parliament and of legislative chambers in countries around the world is analysed for its relationship to political culture. It is argued that parliamentary buildings and spaces (1) preserve cultural values of the polity over time; (2) articulate contemporaneous political attitudes and values; and (3) contribute to the formation of political culture. Preservation is illustrated by how parliament buildings occupy sacred sites, symbolize the state and assure the continuity of legislative traditions. Articulation is exemplified by reflecting the relative importance of the two legislative houses and making expressive statements about the role of parties, executives and individual legislators. Formation can be affected by the physical dimensions of chambers, the arrangement of seats, aisles and lecterns, and spatial relationships between houses and the parliament versus the executive. It is concluded that the advent of television broadcasting of parliamentary sessions may make these architectural features even more important in perpetuating, manifesting and shaping political culture.

The assumption of this article is that the physical architecture of parliaments is or should be - of interest to political scientists, not just architects or architectural historians. This is because these buildings and the rooms within them relate in important ways to political culture. For one thing, they are themselves artefacts of political culture. National parliamentary buildings are among the most prominent symbols of government in any polity. For another, legislative houses are relevant to political scientists because of what they say about the broader political culture that surrounds and moulds them. As I argue elsewhere, these buildings, as self-consciously built stages for the performance of political rituals, may be assumed to reflect the shared norms of governance and underlying patterns of political behaviour that constitute political culture.1 Some of the connections between political science and architecture have been previously noted. Harold Lasswell theorized about the openness of the rooms of rulers as an indicator of democratic inclinations. He also speculated that the configuration of city skylines can act as an indicator of relative group power within a community.2 David Milne argued that public buildings may be thought of as political metaphors whose solid facades make governmental institutions appear mighty and durable. 3 Samuel Patterson noted that seating propinquity in legislatures seems related to both personal bonds between legislators and
Center for Public Administration and Policy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 1 Charles T. Goodsell, The Social Meaning of Civic Space: Studying Political Authority Through Architecture (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988), pp. 7-10. 2 Harold D. Lasswell, The Signature of Power: Buildings, Communication, and Policy (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1979). 3 David Milne, 'Architecture, Politics and the Public Realm', Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, 5 (1981), 131-46.

53-79. wood. Preservation. 4 (1972). The fact that buildings are constructed of durable materials such as stone.8 As long as the setting remains intact it will transmit those cues. 6 Juan Pablo Bonta. 8 Amos Rapoport. it does condition their thoughts and actions in preliminary. Human Aspects of Urban Form (Oxford: Pergamon Press. 1982). 344-66. the relevant principles and ideas that are perpetuated concern the nation. the state and the legislative institution itself. Not as explicitly as in medieval cathedrals yet with surprising clarity. 5 Cortus T. respectively. Architecture and Its Interpretation: A Study of Expressive Systems in Architecture (London: Lord Humphries. Polity. with probabilistic but potentially powerful cueing effects as a result. While the physical setting does not by any means deterministically control the attitudes and behaviour of people. A physical environment is created that indirectly influences behaviour within parliaments and by governments.4 Cortus Koehler studied the effects of the design of city council chambers on communication behaviour in city council meetings.5 In this article I propose that the architecture of parliamentary buildings and the design and contents of parliamentary chambers make three contributions to political culture: they perpetuate the past. Houses of parliament are not merely monuments. Calif: Sage Publications. the second function. 10 (1980). Patterson. Articulation and Formation. Formation. conservation and maintenance of cultural values over long periods of time. Articulation.but also contemporaneous attitudes and behaviour.6 By means of the third function. Building interiors are particularly important here. With respect to parliamentary houses. They express not just cultural content that pre-dates the structure . 1979). present-day public buildings and objects embody deeply-rooted cultural concepts in their form and substance which are then on display for later generations to absorb.7 Buildings may be seen as a form of non-verbal communication in which messages are encoded by builders and then decoded by occupants. public architecture affects the political future. they manifest the present and they condition the future. Sometimes this perpetuation spills over outside original territorial boundaries. refinishing. subtle and interactive ways. 1977. Koehler. 'Party Opposition in the Legislature: The Ecology of Legislative Institutionalization'. The Psychology of Place (New York: St Martin's Press. 'City Council Chamber Design: The Impact of Interior Design Upon the Meeting Process'. subject to the * Samuel C. I call these functions. they are built environments and inhabited spaces.as in Preservation .288 GOODSELL their voting behaviour. 7 David Canter. and The Meaning of the Built Environment (Beverly Hills. metal and glass means that architecture performs well as a bearer of ideas over time. or rearrangement. 1977). for their surfaces and objects are utilized by occupants on a daily basis and thus receive the imprint of current behaviour. as in the special case of the colonial reproduction of parliamentary architecture. Preservation is the mobilization. Journal of Environmental Systems. . is the manifestation of values and ideas currently extant in political life at the time of the building's construction. Hence in the Articulation function architecture acts as a record or index of ongoing political life. remodelling.

We turn now to illustrations of the performance of each of these three functions in national parliamentary buildings in selected countries.9 In all three of these functions. symbolized the unification of Germany achieved by Bismarck in 1871. The Palace of Westminster occupies a shoreline along the Thames river that is deeply meaningful to English history. 1977). and thus perpetuates its honour.The Architecture of Parliaments 289 important limitation that later generations may reinterpret the meaning of them according to evolving cultural premises. The importance of the Reichstag to German Lars Lerup. the Assembly Building of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia occupies a meadow in Belgrade on which the Great Serbian National Assembly met in 1830 to confirm the autonomy of Serbia. intentional acts on the one hand and the working of general cultural transmission processes on the other. As for European examples. The Palace of the Grand National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Romania is sited on the Hill of the Patriarchy in Bucharest on which historic acts of nation-building occurred. By providing a tangible symbol of a new political system. built in 1884-94. articulation and formation of political culture. By the same token. By occupying a place of historic or symbolic importance the building 'holds' that ground indefinitely on behalf of the political order. These two relationships of architecture to the political world are often indistinguishable from one another. Building the Unfinished: Architecture and Human Action (Beverly Hills. The erection of the building was an important symbolic act and helped to solidify the federation and establish Berne as the legitimate capital city. The first Federal State House in Berne was constructed in 1852-57. Westminster Hall. trials and lyings-in-state. for example. design and furnish public buildings both follow the specific orders of regime officials and respond unconsciously to their surrounding cultural milieu. we find a mixture of conscious. shortly after the Swiss federation was formed in 1948. Similarly. Both contribute to the preservation. plan. saw many royal coronations. traumatically damaged the German political psyche. the German Reichstag. it should be borne in mind. Those who conceive. the edifice helps to 'jell' fluid constitutional situations and thereby helps to preserve the incipient order. 9 . Calif: Sage Publications. the burning of the Reichstag in 1933. probably by the National Socialists. THE PRESERVATION FUNCTION Houses of parliament preserve the content of political culture in a most elemental sense when they are sited on ground of special cultural significance. On this place stood the old Royal Palace. from Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII. which was the chief residence of kings of England for five centuries. whose walls incorporate part of the Palace's original Great Hall of 1099. namely the union of Moldavia with Vallachia in 1859 and the unification with Transylvania in 1918. Another elemental act of Preservation by parliament buildings is the stabilization of newly created national orders.

Typically they are rendered in variations of neo-classical architectural style complete with columns. whose stone and wood come from all Cantons. even though modern parliamentary buildings had already been erected elsewhere. law and legitimate government power.290 GOODSELL nationhood is indicated by its careful reconstruction in 1957-71. and labourers were deliberately imported from all corners of Switzerland to participate in creating this symbol of national union. The walls of the rotunda are lined with a 300-foot frieze that begins with the Landing of Columbus. The new Parliament House currently being completed in Canberra is being decorated so as to mark successive epochs in Australia's national-building process. thus establishing its temporal permanence beyond doubt. the generic symbol of government in the West. statues of William Tell and Staffacher's wife. The interior decor of houses of parliament may contribute to Preservation of an established order by celebrating acts of its founding. painted with figures from events that led to the adoption of the Constitution of 1822. stability and dignity. By self-consciously reviving the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. We do not have to examine just old parliament buildings to uncover such Preservationist decor. craftsmen. George Washington. artists. The Founding Father of the United States. and ends with the Birth of Aviation. cornices and entablatures. the contemporary state is in this way linked with antiquity. such facades express values of reason. thus presenting an image of enduring and legitimate state power. extends through the Declaration of Independence and Civil War. is apotheosized in the oculus of the US Capitol's rotunda. of the lower house of the Legislative Assembly of Portugal. As Milne suggests. The approaching forecourt incorporates Aboriginal artwork and a fountain-surrounding 'island' so as to signify the pre-settled continent. Good examples of these neoclassical facades are found in the Palais de la . When the Federal Palace was erected in 1894-1900. or 'Hemicycle'. The same is true with the Swiss Federal Palace. a great lunette decorates the back wall. in a giant concave painting located 180 feet above the floor. Nineteenth and early twentieth century parliamentary buildings almost always possess strong facades. Its rotunda is decorated by stained glass windows that depict all economic areas of the nation and by statues of infantry soldiers representing each of the country's four language areas. while the reception hall inside contains an embroidery depicting the ensuing of white settlement. Other physical features of parliament buildings celebrate the act of national integration that was achieved by formation of the political order. the exterior facades of public buildings often exude a particular sense of strength. In Berne's National Council chamber. Often the centrepiece of the composition is a columned portico topped by a pendimented gable. dramatic personae from the play by Schiller that provides the legendary basis of Swiss liberties. pilasters. In the sessions room. The entry foyer is decorated with carved panels that represent the arrival of the first fleet of white visitors. The Reichsrat in Vienna is built of stone from all crown provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. look down from niches in the walls.

but it is still brought to sessions in a velvet-lined box alongside a new reproduction. 1975). A final point with regard to the Preservationist function is that it is manifest across territorial boundaries. The Senate has no mace. All furniture and ceremonial objects were perfectly reconstructed. p. arguing that its dimensions and appointments are inseparable from the British political tradition. justified its Hellenistic style in explicitly political terms: 'The ancient Greeks were the first people to love the freedom of regularity above all. After the interior of the Commons chamber was destroyed by a German incendiary attack in 1941. This is accomplished by means of houses of parliament built in former colonies. The Preservationist contribution of parliamentary objects is also illustrated in the US Congress.The Architecture of Parliaments 291 Nation in Brussels. Augustus Pugin's Gothic design was reproduced almost without change. Unless fire or wartime destruction intervene. Westminster Palace has been the home of the House of Commons and House of Lords since the building was put into its present external form by Sir Charles Barry in the 1840s. the Dispatch Boxes (on which the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader lay their speaking notes). but these usually pertain to increased office and staff space rather than significant alterations to the chambers themselves. 22. the Capitol in Washington and the Reichsrat in Vienna. The Austrian parliament's architect. Theophil Baron von Hansen. long-used legislative houses and chambers are lovingly preserved as testaments to a venerable past. the Palais Bourbon in Paris. penholders and glass shakers of blotting sand. the Bar of the House (a literal barrier at its entrance). and it was their style which besides its pronounced severity and regularity permitted a great liberty of development. . Another set of beloved objects is lacquered snuffboxes that rest on ledges near the rostrum. oblong and laid out with opposing Government and Opposition benches. including The Table (from which the motion 'to table' comes). at least in the British case. The ivory gavel. A canopied Speaker's Chair occupies one end of The Floor with The Table facing it. The 10 The Austrian Parliament (Vienna: Osterreichische Staatsdruckerei. Winston Churchill himself insisted on a faithful duplication of the old Commons. the canopied Speaker's Chair and the Petition Bag hanging behind it (source of the phrase. Its desks are of the style used since 1819 (many of them original). but it is not without sacred objects. 'it's in the bag'). The last-named building was built in 1874-83 on the Ringstrasse. including inkwells. Vienna's great street of public architecture. was accidentally broken by Vice-President Nixon in 1954. Typically legislatures revere their parliamentary spaces. Of course additions and modifications to parliamentary 'accommodations' occur. The House of Commons of Canada meets in a chamber that is.'10 The Preservationist function extends also to the continuity of the legislative institution itself. believed to date from 1789. The British Paraliament is illustrative. The mace of the House of Representatives dates from 1841 and is a copy of the one destroyed by the British when they burned the Capitol in 1814. like its namesake.

suitably modified to meet local conditions. One way that parliamentary interiors constitute a political statement is in the number. colour (green). Englishman Ivor Shipley. It constitutes a form of non-verbal language that states features of the political culture that may or may not be revealed in other ways. this is naturally reflected in the existence of two chambers. The Ugandan Parliament House at Kampala is clothed in a modern exterior but the interior of the National Assembly Chamber duplicates the layout. in ' W. whose 1919 Parliament House was intended to be of secondary significance to the colonial Secretariat. did not like the semicircular seating previously used in the country's parliament on the grounds that it encouraged departure from a proper two-party system:11 I was firmly convinced that the two-party system which existed should be clearly expressed in architectural terms and that the horseshoe plan being used in the existing Lower House should be abandoned. 1 . Articulation. Although this is not the case in India. These statements are particularly manifest in building interiors. The Malaysian Parliament Building in Kuala Lumpur similarly unites a modern exterior and traditional interior. and artefacts of the House of Commons. Gothic detailing. and a Speaker's chair decorated with the British coat of arms. there. complete with royal throne. When a legislature consists of two houses. with the latter presented as a gift by the British counterpart (although redesigned somewhat since the Western mace is unknown in East Africa). THE ARTICULATION FUNCTION We turn now to the second function performed by parliamentary houses with regard to political culture. 46 (1965). Ivor Shipley. where used surfaces and objects act as an index to current behaviour. This is the principle very similar to the layout of the Houses of Lords and Commons at Westminster. The architect. Chamber layout in Australia and New Zealand is similar. desks for Hansard reporters. facing a central well. The principal difference between legislative chambers in London and Ottawa is that members of the Canadian parliament sit at two-person desks rather than open benches. Here architecture does not conserve the past so much as express contemporaneous values and attitudes.292 GOODSELL Canadian Senate chamber emulates the British House of Lords. The British colonies that became independent after the Second World War also tend to emulate the parliamentary chambers of their former masters. The Table bears two English-oak dispatch boxes and a silver-gilt mace. The Parliament Building of Malaysia'. except that parallel rows of seating are joined by a semicircle of seats at one end. Journal of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth. and red coloration. Reminders of the Mother Parliament are particularly vivid in Wellington. placement and size of assembly chambers. one finds Division Lobbies. 177-81. The layoutfinallyagreed for both Houses consisted of parallel rows of seating at right angles to the Speaker. duplicates of Westminster can be found in former colonies where legislative houses were built since independence.

because they represent governments rather than citizens. Also equality of chambers may be empty of meaning. Their biennial two-day sessions are frequently joint there is little practical reason to have the bodies convene separately . The royal throne was normally elevated on a high podium and covered by an honorific canopy or baldachin. such as the Great Hall or the Hall of Congresses. At the mid-point of one side of the room the king. In Canada the two chambers are both housed in a single building block. In West Germany the Bundestag and Bundesrat do not have equal constitutional standing: the popularly-elected Bundestag cannot be overruled in certain matters by the Bundesrat. the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of the Nationalities. but they are symmetrically placed at opposing ends of the floor plan so as to confer equal architectural status. When the British House of Lords lost most of its substantive power its chamber in Westminster remained as elegant as ever. Since in most bicameral systems the two houses are seen as possessing equal status. In South Africa tricameralism was recently adopted. and when this happens a corresponding shift occurs architecturally. its former chamber was emptied of most furniture so as to be available for a variety of public functions. But as politically powerless organs they do not even possess chambers of their own. In Sweden. Occasionally bicameralism is abandoned in favour of unicameralism. one large new chamber was constructed within the interior of the old Riksdag. or equivalently large building wings. although it is noteworthy that when the House of Commons burned during the war it was the Lords who moved temporarily to the Queen's Robing Room. after the Senate was discontinued. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR consists of two houses. members of the Bundesrat possess a special seating area in the Bundestag chamber. the 'Bundesrat bench'. Despite widespread use of the terminology 'upper house' and 'lower house'. it is instructive to launch a discussion of this topic by commenting on the medieval estates of the Middle Ages. In New Zealand. Unequal standing between the houses may or may not result in differentiation between chambers. These bodies typically met in square or rectangular rooms. the focal point of attention. requiring the construction of a new wing on Parliament Building in Cape Town. This may be in the form of equivalent room dimensions. as at the Capitol in Washington. not the elected MPs. with the First . the Bourbon Palace for the National Assembly and the Luxembourg Palace for the Senate. Accordingly.The Architecture of Parliaments 293 that double use of one chamber is rare. would be seated. after lengthy controversy. As regards chamber layout. Also. the Bundestag chamber and the wing housing it are much smaller than those occupied by the Bundesrat. In France equivalency is achieved by housing each chamber in an equally magnificent historic building.and take place in general-purpose halls or theatres within the Kremlin. which is composed of appointees of Lander governments. in almost all countries the two chambers are located on the same storey of parliament house. Members of the estates were then seated in blocks. some manifestation of architectural equality between the two chambers is usually present. as in Parliament House in New Delhi.

Belgium.294 GOODSELL Estate or clergy on the monarch's right.e. illustrated by the group of desks located at the front of the American House of Representatives. The basic furniture device for honouring parliamentary officers is a large and richly decorated rostrum mounted on a podium. not counting the Senate rostrum occupied by the Vice-President when he presides over that body. elevation and encapsulation in an impressive piece of furniture. royalty sits in a special gallery overlooking the floor from above. In modern monarchies such as Britain. the chamber contains a Box which is a protected bench located in the corner of the House to the Speaker's right. as in Austria or the Soviet Union.it must seat its presiding Lord Chancellor on the more mundane Woolsack. Although the monarch is banned from the Commons. and the Third Estate or bourgeoisie in the rear. however. In the Japanese Diet. Thus it is revealing to compare how its presence is registered in various chamber arrangements. centrality. from which the monarch has been banned since 1642. a large upholstered seat stuffed with wool from all corners of the Commonwealth. 12 The modern legislative chamber is laid out very differently. In the Danish Riksdag. although connections between the two can be made. The repository of great power in modern government is of course the executive. R. and they sit at the same benches as other MPs. Since the House of Lords already possesses a throne . The contemporary legislature is presided over not by the king. fenced off when the Queen is not in attendance. In the Westminster tradition there is very little overt physical expression of the executive. albeit always in the front row on the Government side. which seems logical in view of the theoretically absolute powers of the Commons and British concepts of cabinet government and ministerial responsibility. Meyers. The Prime Minister and other leading ministers are first and foremost Members of Parliament. a vertically high structure or tribune. The honour and power bestowed on these officers is reflected architecturally by the same themes formerly directed to royalty.a real one for the Queen . it is elevated behind the platform backdrop and hidden by curtains when not occupied. 1975).. At the front of the Lords' Chamber in Westminster stands a magnificent throne. we should not be surprised to note that no executive officer. the House of Councillors incorporates the Emperor's throne on the ground floor. or a nested group of convex tables at successive elevations. Parliaments and Estates in Europe to 1789 (London: Thames and Hudson. . In the United States. but by designated officers such as parliamentary speakers and presidents. This ensemble may include a horizontal bench or presidium. this is definitely not the case in the Commons. is recognized by specialized accommodation on the floors of Congress. with its rather strict tradition of separation of powers. From it the 12 A. Denmark and Holland honorific places are provided for royalty. i. including the President. the Second Estate or nobility on his left. The Westminster tradition. favours a throne-like Speaker's chair placed near the centre of the room. as exemplified in France and Finland. in London as well as in capitals of the Commonwealth.

these benches convey the point that ministers need not even be members of parliament. we recall that medieval estates were seated in blocks. the common pattern of membership seating is very different. Regardless of rationale. respectively). This is done by placing large numbers of ruling party leaders and high government officials at a separate set of several benches. such as West Germany. not join them. unlike in the medieval estates. The Westminster seating pattern emulates this idea somewhat. Winston Churchill and other commentators contended that this arrangement encouraged a two-party system. These items of furniture are placed. or a huge seal commemorating the revolution. across a space approximately twelve feet wide. Outside Britain and the Commonwealth countries. MPs vote as individuals rather than by bloc. ministers and other executive officials have their own chairs or desks. Typically these ministerial benches have high desk skirts or even frontal walls. as in Austria and Romania. overshadowing even the chamber's presiding officer. Legislators typically sit in a semicircle facing the presiding officer. In both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China literally hundreds of such senior officials are installed in this highlighted sector of the room. Various radial sectors of the semicircle can be occupied by parties according to their ideological orientation. The officials are situated either in straight rows. a wall. as in Italy and West Germany. it must be kept in mind that. in that Government MPs sit in one block of benches and Opposition MPs in the other (at the right and left of the Speaker. Another very different tradition obtains in several European countries and Japan. This block of special seating is located behind the central lectern of the presidium that faces the parliamentary membership. or in concave arcs. On the wall behind their backs is placed a key symbol of state power. Elsewhere the power and prestige of the executive itself is articulated. While party discipline is rather strong in Britain. the executive's presence in such a setting becomes the dominant visual focus. moreover. entirely distinct from those given to legislators. firmly segregating those who actually hold power from those who merely legitimize it. . such as a giant statue of Lenin. as in China. Moreover the benches are elevated in successive steps. or a row of potted flowers. Turning now to patterns of seating on the parliamentary floor. Thus Government and Opposition face each other directly. seated behind seven or eight straight benches that reach across the entire width of the space. but clearly it has not prevented the emergence of third parties in Britain. An even stronger statement of executive power is made in parliamentary sessions held in some communist countries. In some countries. along the front of the room. At the front of this bastion runs a high desk skirt. The resulting fan-shaped array of seats lends itself to differentiated placement by political party. Here. one to each estate. so as to face members of paraliament. giving their occupants high status and psychological protection. as in the USSR. giving their occupants superiority of height over house members seated on the flat floor below.The Architecture of Parliaments 295 Crown's senior civil servants advise ministers sitting at the adjacent Government bench.

13 Variants of course exist. Certainly American Senators pride themselves on being individually important public figures. and in Ireland it is always to the left . the Government is on the left for a similarly practical reason: the chamber's potbellied stove is on that side. J. In the US Congress the modern practice is to place Democrats on the presider's right and Republicans on his left. which has been a part of Canada only since 1949. early in the nineteenth century the majority party automatically sat on the right. 1981). he converted a Parisian theatre for this purpose. when the Estates General rebelled against Louis XVI by breaking loose from bloc voting. Italy. the semicircle is created by furniture arrangement. pp. Israel and Ireland. creating a horseshoe shape. Gooch. Cameroon. In Newfoundland. 260-66. K. it is said. There. Left and Right: The Topography of Political Perceptions (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Its ampitheatre form lent itself perfectly to a left-right array. Moreover this left-right spatial framework has become the basic metaphor for organizing modern political ideology. The opposite extreme is the undifferentiated bench seating found in the US House and in both UK chambers. corporatist-style social or economic constituency (Czechoslovakia. North Vietnam). such as Hungary. While most chambers are themselves semicircular to accommodate fan-configured seating. Originally American Representatives had individual desks. 14 Valentine Herman. A. 13 R. In some countries. Laponce. clearly separate and self-standing. Parliamentary Government in France: Revolutionary Origins. in Germany and the United States the room is rectangular. the doorway is on that side of the room. segmented adjoining tables. as in Canada and New Zealand. is afforded by the individual desk and chair. Gisors constructed a permanent hall for the National Convention four years later. and became the basic model for the seating of members in nonWestminster parliaments ever since. Although this has been the case since at least the 1870s. 1976). Also a few exceptions exist to the rule of seating conservatives on the right and radicals on the left: in India the government always sits to the right regardless of its party composition. opposite the usual ideological direction. the arc is quite deep.296 GOODSELL literally from 'left' to 'right' from the presiding officer's perspective. Other differing seating criteria are by geographic area (Norway. but they were abandoned in 1913 as the House grew in size and became more crowded. This is the case in the US Senate. Parliaments of the World: A Reference Compendium (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter. The greatest status. not the composition of the space itself. as in Israel. Romania and the federal houses of Germany and Yugoslavia). When J. for which I have been unable to find an equivalent elsewhere. This concept is said to have originated at the time of the French Revolution. 1960). 14 The nature of the furniture provided for individual members can affect their status as legislators.because. Promonarchy members took chairs to Louis's right while those opposing the status quo placed themselves on his left. regardless of ideology. P. Intermediate arrangements in parliamentary accommodation around the world are: two-person desk-chair combinations. . perhaps. and alphabetical order (Bangladesh. 1789-1791 (New York: Russell and Russell. Hungary. Spain).

and continuous tables with only slightly differentiated seats (as in separate backs). behavioural consequences that continue on into the future. has been considered by some to reveal Congress's 'democratic' nature. (Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals (New York: Random House. Still. Finland and France. Calif. 17 Roger G. such as the Irish Dail and the new Australian Parliament. 18 15 Paul Goodman suggests that the Senators' separate desks portray them as a kind of state ambassador. 174-6. in combination with other factors. This design. pp. 22 (1961). 1952). Journal of the American Institute of Architects. galleries are faced with glass for added protection. non-deterministic and by no means easily predictable. its individualization and quality can say much about the perceived importance of the single legislator. The Effect of Room Characteristics Upon Vocal Intensity and Rate'. Because various settings induce 'standing' patterns of expected behaviour within their confines (such as speaking in a low voice within a church or library). 18 John W. This means we must be circumspect and speculative in approaching them. In some chambers. the impossibility of precise analysis should not keep us from recognizing the potentially powerful effect of the mood cues that physical settings transmit to their human occupants. 17172. where outsiders have been brought downstairs. 15 All parliaments provide special seating for members of the press and public. Denmark. found in Belgium. Black. While space and cost are factors that inevitably affect members' furniture. The National Legislative Chambers'. These consequences are. 18 (1952). This pattern probably indicates both the exclusivity of the floor and considerations of physical security. In contrast to more recent municipal council chambers. with press and Hansard reporters placed just above the Speaker.The Architecture of Parliaments 297 Germany and Japan. national parliaments prefer to keep visitors off the floor. i.: Stanford University Press. in that they surround the House and Senate chambers on all four sides. 1968). whereas in the Commons the galleries surround the entire chamber. This is usually situated in upstairs galleries rather than on the floor of the chamber itself. 17 Experimental research on the effects of room characteristics on vocal behaviour shows that speakers tend to speak more slowly in larger and more reverberant rooms. Journal of Acoustical Society of America.e. in the undemocratic Lords reporters and 'strangers' are restricted to galleries along the rear wall only. Barker. Ecological Psychology: Concepts and Methods for Studying the Environment of Human Behaviour (Stanford. . however. 2559-64. Galleries in the American Congress are unusually ample and open. THE FORMATION FUNCTION The third contribution of parliamentary architecture to political culture is Formation.) 16 John F. Harbeson. architecture helps to channel and regularize behaviour. 16 Lords and Commons at Westminster differ interestingly on this score. Perhaps the status of US Senators is uniquely high by world standards.

he declared in what is now a famous sentence: 'We shape our buildings. and with the Prime Minister's urging it was kept that size. and afterwards our buildings shape us. At 45 x 68 feet (about 3. A key theme in his 1943 speech was that the intimate atmosphere of Commons should by all means be kept intact. ed. creating a 'sense of crowd and urgency'. Seating arrangements also have an impact on behaviour. 'a small chamber and a sense of intimacy are indispensable'. Vol. can encourage members to address their colleagues from one central spot. On momentous occasions.' This idea was the basis for his proposal to retain an architectural space that had had. all speakers must come forward to use the dais microphone. Furthermore. Most European parliaments are fitted with a major lectern. he believed. To him. The presence of aisles or gangways between partisan segments of seating can serve to accentuate party Robert R.' Churchill said. The US House has two lecterns but the Senate has none. 1974). In Britain the Despatch Boxes serve this purpose. provided that seats are permanently assigned (at least by bloc) and are ordered in a partisan array.0008. James. reportedly the largest is the German Bundestag. Churchill.000 square feet). often placed atop a rather high podium or integrated with a rostrum or tribune. In the House of Commons a generalized sound reinforcement system is used. The alternate semicircular or fan-shaped arrangement can facilitate ideological debate. 1897-1963 (New York: Chelsea House. A prominent speaking lectern. In some parliaments. No voice amplification is used in the American Senate. 6869-73. which at 115 x 112 feet possesses over 12.. all members will come to hear. Westminster-style opposition seating. across the two Sword Lines woven into the carpet of The Floor. he went on. A 'debate' rather than 'meeting' atmosphere is also induced by acoustical conditions that permit the human voice to be easily heard.284 square feet. 19 Another parliamentary chamber famous for its intimacy is the US Senate. drama as well as intimacy is possible: 'If the House is big enough to contain all its Members. Most parliamentary chambers are in the 5. Winston S. unaided by public address systems.hat he believed its gutted chamber should be faithfully rebuilt. 19 .000 square feet. This tends to introduce more formality than when members feel free to speak from their seats or in the aisles. must surely invite an atmosphere of confrontation between Government and Opposition.298 GOODSELL When Churchill told the Commons in 1943 '. solidly built to afford psychological protection. Room size is not the only feature to have behavioural effects. which amplifies all voices without anyone needing to speak directly into a microphone. the House is one of the smallest parliamentary spaces extant. whose floor dimensions are 84 x 51 feet or 4. His Complete Speeches. VII. a formative effect on British political life.000 square foot range. such as Denmark. in the French National Assembly and American House several microphones are scattered throughout the chamber. pp. 'nine-tenths of its debates will be conducted in the depressing atmosphere of an almost empty or half-empty chamber'. since the benches can accommodate only 437 of the House's membership of 635.

23-9. The fact that the central hall is round and in the centre of a round building designates the building plan as a 'sociopetal' arrangement that tends to bring people together. was the arena for many a frenetic scene where competing partisan factions would in unison shout slogans of ridicule or the German equivalent of 'bravo'. On the back wall of the US House votes are simply listed by name of representative. Parliamentary Affairs. through which members file to vote. The presence or absence of voting machines is also significant. If fioorplan party diagrams are any indication. technically termed 'sociofugal'. In Denmark and Sweden results are shown only by member. as in Denmark. but displayed in a miniature schematic of the chamber floor. (In Lords the equivalents are the 'Contents' and 'Not Contents' lobbies. as in France. they become museums of party lore and sanctuaries for the party faithful. Division lobbies at Westminster. In India's Parliament House the chambers of the House of the People and Council of States face onto a common central hall. p. Their use permits a more rapid casting of ballots but shortens the time available for lastminute negotiations. Menial Hospital. as at Westminster. The Supreme Court Chamber also faces onto this hall. 20 . 20 Partisan behaviour can also be affected by other architectural features. 'quite right' or 'very true' depending on the debating points being made. 21 Humphrey Osmond. 518-33. When these rooms are used exclusively by one party over the years. Spatial relationships between the chambers can affect behavioural interaction between bicameral bodies. in the language of environmental psychology. 'Council Chambers of the Great Parliaments'. whose floor was divided into numerous segments by radial gangways and concentric aisles. When machines are used the very design of the tally display boards can have subtle implications. whose more relaxed precincts are used to strike deals rather than march down the line of party loyalty.21 A separating arrangement. The House and Senate in Washington are in opposite wings of the Capitol. 'the other side of the aisle' is a frequent reference made in the halls of the American Congress. is exemplified by placement of chambers in different sections of a building. indeed. encourage party discipline by their very location. 526. 14 (1961). The prewar German Reichstag. Lords and Commons are separated by a walk of over 300 feet through five ceremonial spaces. The 'Aye' lobby is on the Government side of the House and the 'No' on the Opposition side.The Architecture of Parliaments 299 division. In Europe the division is more complex than a simple dichotomy. the 542 feet separating the Kurt Peschel. "Function as the Basis of Psychiatric Ward Design'. 8 (1957). Boards that display results by party emphasize the importance of partisan behaviour.) In the less partisan US Capitol we find not adjoining division lobbies but cloakrooms. Another spatial variable of importance to partisanship is whether special rooms are set aside in the parliament building for party caucuses. these walkways figure prominently in the splinter politics of both countries. Nine radial aisles divide the Italian Chamber of Deputies and sixteen fragment the French National Assembly.

is directly connected to a drum-like office building built next door in the 1960s. The Parliamentarian. all three chambers possess an identical Speaker and secretarial officialdom. Tellingly. We have in short a vivid instance of where architecture not only reflects social policy but seems intended to perpetuate it. An example of extreme cameral sociofugalism is encountered in South Africa.22 The Parliament House of New Zealand. In new or expanded parliamentary facilities being constructed considerable attention is paid to the relative proximity of legislature and executive premises and the ease of movement between them. 'The Parliament House of Uganda'. whereas prior to the beehive ministers were crowded 22 Philip Pullicino. the mile and a-half that separates the Capitol and White House in Washington is similarly not insignificant to understanding the meaning of separation of powers in American government. In Ottawa the Canadian Prime Minister's offices are across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill. . a chamber edifice and a tower for ministerial offices. The British architect who designed the beehive placed the cabinet room on its top floor. all of whom are White officers of the House of Assembly. 390-4. Footbridges connect the two so as to facilitate the legislative-executive integration that is at the heart of the Westminster system. The new parliament house for Uganda consists of two separate structures. Thus tricameralism in South Africa not only divides legislators into separate bodies but creates a ranked class system among these bodies. as illustrated by the common Whitehall location of Westminster and 10 Downing Street. The fact that the Supreme Soviet meets within the very walls of the Kremlin is not irrelevant to the powerlessness of that body vis-a-vis the party's and government's leadership. Meanwhile the Whiteonly House of Assembly meets in the largest and most historic chamber. one chamber can tell whether the other is in session by means of red and white light bulbs mounted in chandeliers hanging outside their doors.in chairs temporarily set up between the permanent benches.300 GOODSELL chambers cannot be transversed by a direct walk. The two non-White bodies have their own chambers. the Coloureds on the left. Spatial relationships can also influence interaction between the legislature and the executive. In a system installed before modern communications. 45 (1964). built in 1918. known locally as the 'beehive'. with the PM's suite immediately below. built in 1910 to house the Union Parliament. with the Coloureds meeting in the chamber of the former upper house and the Indians in a space created temporarily in a light court. and the Indians in the centre . On these occasions the Speaker presides over a session in which Whites are seated on the right (the Government side in Westminster terms). The tricameral system created in 1983 to implement apartheid in its legislative manifestation established a House of Representatives for Coloureds (those of mixed race) and a House of Delegates for Indians (Asians). In many countries something of a compromise between these two poles prevails. At the other extreme. When the three bodies meet jointly they do so in the old Union chamber. The new building was not without its behavioural consequences. No legislative body was established for Blacks.

The third is taken up by the public entrance and the fourth is given over to the executive and cabinet. Sheppard. 23 . 207-8. Terry Fewtrell. is that the building's vast size and the grand nature of its public entrance will depict the structure not as a parliament house but as a people's building. The House of Representatives and Senate occupy two of these. F. by the manner in which royalty. presiding officers and the executive are honoured.000-foot-square structure. unpublished. New Zealand'. now they enjoy superior but isolated accommodation.in many nations the prime physical symbol of government . What is called the Preservation function is illustrated by the building's occupancy of sacred sites. CONCLUSION We have noted numerous examples of how the architecture of the paraliament house . even beyond original territorial boundaries. the availability of lecterns and microphones. by ways in which house importance and equality are expressed.has possessed relevance for political culture. The Parliamentarian.or could occur potentially depending on the degree of chamber intimacy. manifest and shape political culture. 24 Terry Fewtrell. he says. 'A New Parliament House: A New Parliamentary Order'. the arrangements of seats and aisles. argues that the building 'will change the style and the substance of the Parliament' and 'alter the environment of Australian federal administration'. legislator status. the presence of ancillary spaces such as division lobbies and party rooms. 24 In future years observers of Australian politics will want to look back to determine whether these predictions of such a formative effect on political culture did or did not come to pass. Formation of culture seems to have occurred . One analyst. whose construction is being concluded as these words are being written. its celebration of nationhood. Finally. 47 (1966). is expected by some to have farreaching consequences for Australian government. and spatial relationships between bicameral houses and between the parliament and the executive. is greater movement toward a presidential system. the new parliament is laid out in essentially four equal quadrants. 1984. and its expression of the stability of the state and the continuity of legislative traditions. Fewtrell thinks that backbenchers will be separated from ministers because of the separate executive wing. Fergus C. What will develop. The Articulation function is exemplified by how numbers of chambers reflect numbers of houses. One reason. Wellington. A gigantic 1. 'Parliamentary Buildings.The Architecture of Parliaments 301 into parliament offices in close proximity to backbenchers. he says. its symbolization of new constitutional orders. 23 The new Parliament House in Canberra. Fewtrell believes. In addition the generous committee space provided will upgrade the importance of parliamentary committees. and by how various seating arrangements make statements about party government. Within it. Also. and the role of the public and press. the Prime Minister receives far more architectural attention than is appropriate for a government based on Westminster principles. The thesis of these pages has been that parliamentary architecture can perpetuate.

Under this circumstance the impact of parliamentary architecture on political culture is essentially mediated by national elites. . shaping the whole nation's concept of its political self. however. it is one thing to have houses of parliament located in distant national capitals. rather than the consequences of citizen education. This could mean that in the future their design and use will perform the functions of Preservation. 1984). As this century draws to a close. but for widespread projection of political imagery to the masses. chamber interiors and building facades will increasingly become familiar scenes to ordinary citizens. Colorado: Greenwood Press. Congressional Television (Boulder. with the layout of their inner chambers familiar only to legislative insiders. 25 Perhaps parliament houses will become stages not merely for a relatively closed enactment of political rituals. Mass behavioural involvement is limited to tourists who visit the capital city and watch from upstairs galleries.302 GOODSELL In reflecting on the importance of our subject. This may be the true importance of introducing television to the legislative process. Articulation and Formation on a scale unknown in the past. we are finding that parliamentary architecture and design can perhaps have a much greater impact on political culture. 25 Ronald Garay. With widespread adoption of television coverage of legislative sessions taking place. institutional reform or legislator exhibitionism expected by some.

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