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Private problem

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Ken Livingstone is getting annoyed at the level of public accessibility at his City Hall home and is pressing central government for cash to make changes. So revealed Tony McNulty, ministerial design champion for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (and minister for London), at the launch of the Designs on Democracy exhibition at the RIBA. Says McNulty: 'Every time I go there, Ken says it's far too accessible. He gets confronted by members of the public up there on the eighth floor.' McNulty also had some words on other democratic buildings across the UK and Europe. Harrow Civic Centre, where he plied his trade as a councillor, was 'one of the ugliest little boxes', 'a sick building' and an edifice that said 'bugger off '.

The Reichstag is now, as the Bundestag, 'glorious', but the politics that went on inside were 'very dreary', as well as being in German! But he was not a 'hemisphericalist' - those who believe by simply changing the shape of debating chambers, peace will break out. 'It doesn't mean it's going to be consensual all of a sudden.' As a parting shot, McNulty put out a challenge to the assembled dignitaries from the IPPR, CABE, and the local authorities in the AJ-backed competition. 'Let's make it an annual or a biennial competition.'

How about a competition for the government's long-awaited 'second chamber'? New democracy, new architecture.

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