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2005 Court Architecture and Judicial Ritual Report

The first tour in 2005 visited memorable new French courts, including those by Jean Nouvel, Richard Rogers and Henri Cirani.

One highlight was a mock trial in a special terrorism courtroom in Paris, conducted in French, English and Chinese and displaying the different court layouts used by each legal tradition. The Pontoise court illustrated contemporary principles in French court design – elegant and comfortable furniture, clear signposting, increasingly egalitarian courtrooms and plenty of natural light.


Sections in this Report include:

1.  Justice On Trial – The mock trial session and a comparison of French, Chinese and Australian court layout.

2. A Tale Of Two Courts – Paris / Pontoise and Nantes – investigates such themes as:

  • Waiting For Justice – “A distinctive feature of French courthouses is the generous spaces set aside for salles des pas perdus, large entrance halls…”
  • Enlightened Spaces – “Natural lighting from above is a standard design principle for French courts.”
  • Leading Questions – Way-finding in the French court buildings.
  • Beyond The Court – Different French court buildings have different relationships to their settings.
  • Flexible Futures – Adaptation of court spaces to changed purposes.
  • New Symbolism  – The presence and absence of symbols of authority in the courts.
  • Feeling Secure – Safe spaces created by architecture. The use of glass enclosures or cages in terrorism cases.

3. Advanced Technology – Old courtrooms adjust to new technologies, new courtrooms design it in at the outset.

4. A Hushed Place – A reflection on the Cour de cassation of the Palais de Justice in Paris, and the Thirteenth Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne.

5. A New Court For Paris – Construction of the new Paris courts complex.


Highlights of the 2005 Tour were:

Palais de Justice, Paris

  • Guided tour
  • Special features of French Justice, Mme Laetitia Brunin
  • Memorable court spaces, Professors Judith Resnik, Graham Brawn
  • Security and safety issues, Professor, Graham Brawn, Dr Jay Farbstein

EPPJP Offices, Paris

  • Talk on architectural futures for Paris courts

Palais de Justice, Nantes

  • Guided tour
  • Observation of hearings in selected courts, meeting judges and other court staff

Palais de Justice, Pontoise

  • Guided tour.