‘Parliament of Okay Britain’ – Introducing Jack Swanson

We collaborated with Blueprint Magazine to display projects from RCA students graduating from Architecture and Interior Design degrees in our Dallington Street showroom.

During the Blueprint from the Future event, Architects and Designers from across the area came to see the exceptional work of these Royal College of Art students being exhibited throughout the space. They certainly have a bright future, so we thought we’d share more about them with you. Today, we learn more about Jack Swanson, who recently completed a course in MA Architecture.

Jack has previously completed a BArch in Architecture at Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art, where he also completed an erasmus exchange to the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio in Switzerland. He previously worked at Sergison Bates Architects, Landscape Projects and APPARATA architects.

Project: The Parliament of Okay Britain.

Protego ergo Obligo. The principles of obedience for protection, lies at the heart of the Hobbesian model of the nation state. Hobbes’ catchphrase establishes a neat relationship between the establishment and the citizenry. Commentators such as Martin Loughlin, professor of public law at the LSE argue that this basic principle has been the de-facto constitution of the United Kingdom up until the present day. Yet this cosy symbiosis is beginning to unravel.

We see this in the result of the Brexit, in the rise of Celtic and English nationalism and in the growth of Corbynism. The common themes of these political phenomena are that they contradict the settled position of the Westminster establishment; the citizens are growing restless.

At the same time the ancient seat of British democracy itself is crumbling and the Houses of Parliament at Westminster are about to undergo a £3.5 billion restoration. Would it not be a more dignified (and English) end to simply allow this great edifice on the Thames to crumble into a picturesque ruin? Not as a monument to a distant past but as a confident departure to a new future.

A new constitutional settlement for the United Kingdom would see the country being divided into 12 similarly sized regions to reduce English dominance in the political union. The new collective parliament will be based in Liverpool.

The proposed parliament explores the relationship between democracy and architectural representation. Formally the building attempts to go beyond the idea of the generic glass box embodying ideas of democratic transparency, or of a building on a plinth denoting power. Instead the form is ambiguous and multifaceted, which allows the building to be read in a variety of ways. This ambiguity allows many groups to claim ownership of the institution of parliament, subverting the use of architecture as a tool to establish clear hierarchies.

More information about Jack is available on the RCA website.