Letchworth Town Hall Letchworth Garden City 2002–2003

‘The shape of the assembly chamber functions socially and culturally in two distinct ways. At a semantic level, it challenges conventional symmetric forms that symbolise hierarchical political power; at a syntactic level, the chamber uses a simple and organic form to create a complex multi-layered series of spatial conditions […] thus representing the new form of participative democracy.’ Prof Alan Penn, Dean of Bartlett, UCL, 2003

Image 1

  • 0217_DoD_3D_N4.jpg
    'Designs on Democracy’, organised by think tank The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), looked at the role of design in promoting democratic engagement and civic pride. We were one of 9 finalists drawn from 80 architects
  • 0217_DesDem_IPPR_N18.jpg
    The design preserves the old Town Hall, in a modified form, and adds to it two new structures set around a new public space northeast of Broadway Gardens in Letchworth Garden City for North Hertfordshire District Council
  • 0217_DoD_Drawings_N4.jpg
    Normally the council chamber is embedded in the town hall. In our design, as this plan illustrates, the chamber is a freestanding structure. Democracy and bureaucracy (a system of adminstration) are separate
  • 0217_DesDem_IPPR_N16.jpg
    Verandahs, "brims", decks and gardens give form to the idea of an approachable and engaging architecture for democracy in North Herts, in and around which people may dwell
  • 0217_DoD_3D_N2.jpg
    Exploded isometric of Chamber Building - this pavilion accommodates the NHDC chamber, library, museum, café and e-Council
  • 0217_DoD_3D_N3.jpg
    The chamber is a space with four apses and an implied centre. Its shape allows multiple interpretations inviting the democratic meeting process to be continually redefined
  • 0217_Sketches_Chamberplans_N8.jpg
    The complex nature of the space means it can accommodate both formal and informal activities. This layout shows a full council meeting which the public can view from both ground and 1st floors
  • 0217_DesDem_IPPR_N2.jpg
    The second diagram illustrates a cabinet meeting in one of the 4 apses
  • 0217_Sketches_Chamberplans_N5.jpg
    This third layout shows the chamber as a wedding venue
  • 0217_N12.jpg
    The fourth diagram illustrates how it could be used for musical concerts, drama performance and lectures
  • 0217_DoD_Drawings_N1.jpg
    Section through Broadway and Chamber Buildings - administration on the left; meetings, discussion & debate on the right
  • 0217_N22.jpg
    Exploded isometric illustrating our landscape, public realm and placemaking strategy


  • Client: Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
  • Services Engineer: Whity Bird
  • Structural Engineer: Whity Bird
  • Landscape Architect: Landscape Projects
  • Second Place: Competition


  • Kerstin Sailer, ‘Designing a Campus for Students and their Wellbeing’, in: Milliken (Online, 6 January 2021)
  • Ben Rogers, Reinventing the Town Hall - a handbook (2004), pp.31–58
  • David Taylor, ‘New Democracy Designs Unveiled’, in: The Architects Journal (19 December 2002), pp.6–7
  • David Taylor, ‘Nine Win Through in Designs on Democracy Competition’, in: The Architects' Journal (7 November 2002), p.5
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