XIII: Designing Politics. Architectures of Deliberation and Decision-Making (Markus Miessen, David Mulder van der Vegt & Florian Malzacher

Times may change, but not so the venues of official democratic decision-making: opposing benches, horseshoes, frontal classroom style, circles or semi-circles – nearly all parliaments across the planet follow one of these spatial logics. But the shape of plenary halls not only create metaphors of representation they also organize and influence very concretely how legislative bodies work. The 13th edition of The Art of Assembly looks at how architecture shapes decision-making – and at what alternatives there might be. David Mulder van der Vegt, who has researched the design of the parliament halls of all 193 member states of the United Nations, reflects on the correspondence between their layout and the type of democratic structure they represent; Markus Miessen proposes the concept of “crossbenching” as a practice of independent individuals acting without mandate, and without having to respond to a pre-supposed set of protocols or consensual arrangements.