Spaces for Deliberation

By suggesting the possibility to intentionally design spaces for deliberative democratic practices, we propose that a deliberative political and social transition is also the subject of spatial design.

Spatial design cannot be considered separately from the social and political work that lies in designing deliberative processes — in fact, it must be deeply informed and guided by this work. 

Image : ''The flattened deliberative field of standardized mobile props performing in familiar formations''

The physical spaces we interact in strongly influence and condition how we feel and behave. At the moment, our current parliaments and spaces for government are not designed for deliberation - as the image above neatly makes clear. Deliberative processes, such as Citizens’ Assemblies, take place in conference rooms, libraries, universities and other spaces that are not necessarily designed for this way of working. What would a space designed explicitly for citizen deliberation look like? How would it reflect principles of equality, mutual respect, diversity? How could we co-create spaces that invite and encourage listening and collaboration?

How can we apply this knowledge more broadly, creating conditions and enabling infrastructure not only for Citizens’ Assemblies and Juries, but also spontaneous deliberation by people in public spaces in the city? If we believe in the need for permanent institutions, these institutions need to have permanent spaces as well. That this matters both symbolically and practically.

This area of work focuses on researching and designing the physical infrastructure for the next democratic paradigm.

The first part of this series of written and visual explorations by James MacDonald-Nelson and Gustav Kjaær Vad Nielsen will be launched in July 2023.

"A Tree, a Roof, a Tent: Spatial Models for a New Democratic Paradigm" by Claudia Chwalisz, Amelie Klein, and Vera Sacchetti will be published in Markus Miessen's edited volume Agonistic Assemblies in September 2023.

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