Parliament is the space where politics literally takes shape. Here, collective decisions take form in a specific setting that organizes relationships between political actors through architecture. The architecture of spaces of political congregation is not just an abstract expression of a political culture – it participates in politics. Since 2010, architecture office XML has explored the double-sided relationship between space and politics in a series of projects, ranging from art installations, and research, to an interior for a meeting hall of European government leaders in Brussels. In 2016, the office published the book PARLIAMENT, that documents and compares the plenary halls of the parliaments of all 193 United Nation member states. Looking closer at the settings of these deliberative spaces and exploring their tactile and symbolic meaning, also raises questions about the ability of political spaces to envelop collective-decision-making for the specific challenges of today. Parliaments seem to be merely expressions of the past that anchor the political status quo. What role can architecture play in rethinking our models of collectivity? Can the architecture of parliaments provoke another politics? Comparing settings between East and West, North and South, democratic and authoritarian regimes, allows looking at national assemblies as more than mere ornamental and symbolic representations of national values, taking them seriously as actors in the shaping of future times.
David Mulder van der Vegt is an Amsterdam based architect and writer. He is one of the founders of XML, an office for architecture, urbanism and research. The office is fueled by a research-driven approach that turns a careful analysis of a project’s core challenges into the driving force of design. Their efforts to date brought the office extensive recognition and prizes including two European awards for emerging European architects. In 2014 David Mulder van der Vegt was a finalist for the Prix de Rome, the oldest and largest Dutch state prize for Architects under 40. The work of XML has been exhibited internationally at the 14th International Architecture Biennial in Venice and the 5th Guangzhou Triennial. Since 2010 spaces of political congregation have been part of the office’s ongoing preoccupation. In 2016 David co-authored the book ‘PARLIAMENT’ that compares the plenary halls of the parliaments of all 193 United Nations member states. Early 2016, XML in collaboration with Jurgen Bey realized a new interior for the European Council in Brussels, as part of the Dutch Presidency of the European Union. Before starting XML, David was an architect and researcher at AMO, the thinktank of Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam. David has taught and lectured at different architecture and art schools throughout Europe, including TU Delft, the Dessau Institute of Architecture and RWTH Aachen. Between 2014 and 2016 he directed the interdisciplinary research program Designing Democracy at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Currently he is a studio master at the Design Academy in Eindhoven.