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Opulent clock towers, grand halls, building facades covered in splendour and stone. Looking at town halls of the past – from Victorian Britain to modern functionalism – there is a palpable sense of pomp and authority. Town halls are where you find the council chamber and the nucleus of local democracy but they often seem like impenetrable bastions of power.
The town hall of the future, amid myriad administrative and cultural functions and a digital culture where citizens are organising themselves in new ways, is a concept far less easily set in stone.
City planners and the public alike are asking for transparency, citizen involvement, and the breakdown of physical and political barriers. These are ambitions that in some ways hark back hundreds of years to a time before the rise of local government when Europe’s squares, piazzas and market places fostered community and nurtured civic debate. ….