Forum — Architecture Competition by

‘Forum’: Architecture Design Competition for Cultural Architecture

Fig: 1 — The relationship between Government and the people has changed in the past decade. A higher level of transparency and collaboration is often expected in political decisions and activities.

Governance of a city

As the early human settlements progressed in agriculture with information sharing, it led to a rise in the density of people. To organize the larger community and their well-being, forms of governance and leadership came into being.

With time, governance became complex, since progress and advancement created intricate networks of living, bound in the political boundaries of nations, cities, or towns and districts. It is a hierarchical system with a body of authority on every level making laws and policies.

Every regime has the responsibility of establishing order in the community and its judicial and administrative processes take place in designated public buildings like courthouses and civic centers. This forum allows people to be an active part of politics and government ruling in the area.

Fig: 2 — The architecture of old town halls is inspired by art movements but often gets translated into unapproachable designs. (Credits: Tourismus Salzburg GmbH | Manuela Seethaler)

Is politics separate from society and culture?

But there is often an issue of representation of the common people of the town. Bureaucracy tends to dominate the structure and it is rendered as a symbol of power or authority over the people. The architecture of these buildings is demonstrative of this, as they are solid and introverted, discouraging the public to access them proactively. The town hall is supposed to be a place of connection between people and authority, amidst political and cultural exchange. It is capable of raising awareness of the power within people.

How can architecture and spatial design aid in the expression of this ideal, in an effective manner?

Fig: 3 — The spaces of public buildings must not boast of their supremacy, but instead be a welcoming platform for convening the people and the authority to work together towards the betterment of society. (Credits: Tourismus Salzburg GmbH | Manuela Seethaler)

Brief of the Competition

Brief: Design a public town hall that will not only be a workplace for civilians, but also an interface between them and the citizens of the city.

Aesthetics must represent the city and its people. Contextual aspects of the site must be taken into account, so it is an escape from the monotonous landscape of urbanity, but at the same time blend with surroundings in a unique way.

The aim of the design is to promote social interaction amongst citizens and the officials, providing a common ground. Transparency must be moderated to balance approachability with privacy and security. Multi-functional spaces can be designed to cater to public needs during events, festivals, or other interactive sessions.

Design Objectives

  • Layout — The segregation of spaces must be efficient to allow for easy navigation and access
  • Landmark — The form of the town hall must be a representation of the context, culture, and values, accessible to all its visitors. It must be a cultural icon in the city.
  • Balance — a balance between the private and public access spaces must be achieved for smooth functioning of the center
  • Context — the design must respond to the (existing) site conditions. The wider socio-cultural, economic, and environmental settings are to be considered in the design approach.
Fig: 4 — Site image


The Old Town Hall in Salzburg is a landmark from 1772, located in the core of the historic district. The hall also performed as a courthouse in the early days. Now, as this iconic structure attracts many visitors, the lower floors are used as galleries to display local artist’s work, and the remaining part has city council offices.

The site of the proposed town hall is in the center of the city surrounded by a mixed neighborhood. Its location has the advantage of a good amount of households in the area.

  • Site area — 5309 sq.m
  • Maximum Builtup area — 5309 sq.m
  • Ground coverage — 40%
  • Height restrictions — 9 meters
  • Setbacks (as per CAD plan)
  • Coordinates — 47°48'37.7"N 13°03'15.4"E

Area Programme

  • Exhibition hall ~ 200 sq.m
  • Council Chambers ~ 100 sq.m
  • Meeting rooms ~ 200 sq.m
  • Conference halls ~ 100 sq.m
  • Library and Archives ~ 300 sq.m
  • Cafeteria ~ 100 sq.m
    A roof garden, Courtyard, Public Plaza, and other open areas can be designated by the participant.

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page : Forum | Cultural Architecture Competition on UNI | About

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