How can design promote public engagement in the democratic process at a local level?
Democracy is frequently served in the past tense - today's decisions will be in the news tonight and in tomorrow's newspapers. The media is the major domain of contemporary democracy. Otherwise, its other context is usually just beyond reach - taking place over there beyond that cordoned area, inside the room with the closed doors, yes, you will require special permission to gain access...
Increasing the visibility of the political debate and greater access to the events that shape it are paramount to the way in which design can contribute to the promotion of public engagement in the democratic process at a local level.
The new town hall should be soft and porous at its edges, with a periphery that offers programmatic diversity to the immediate surroundings. Surfaces should be engaging and entertaining, capable of transmitting information - saturating the outside with those events taking place on the inside.
Public activities normally found deep inside should gravitate outwards, spilling onto the immediate context where possible. Council chambers within an earshot of the street, visible executive committees, and media walls that relay the on-going forums.
We envision a new town hall that is approachable from many directions, with internal public galleries carving through an environment whose flexibility eschews the generic. A neutral locale where the chance meeting between a local government official and a member of public is possible. One where information is spread by word of mouth as well as through technological networks - a way of bringing contemporary democracy into the present tense.