Feature

Courtrooms around the world are things of beauty

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29

Here are some of the best

Zaha Hadid’s Madrid Civil Courts of Justice design is beautiful – but has yet to be realised
Zaha Hadid’s Madrid Civil Courts of Justice design is beautiful – but has yet to be realised

Recently we brought you the story of the man who stole the roof of Luton Crown Court.

For all the speculation that he was stealing the lead from the courtroom roof to sell it, we wonder if there’s a different explanation.

Perhaps the roof-loving felon wanted to emulate some of the greatest courtrooms in the world — to build his very own temple of justice?

It is, after all, a truth universally acknowledged that courthouses rank among the most elegant buildings known to man. With their clean lines, architectural splendour and imposing form, these buildings are often a joy to behold.

Take, for example, the following. They’re dreams in Wayne Common’s mind.

1. US Supreme Court

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The current US Supreme Court building did not exist until 1935. Before that it had a somewhat nomadic existence, sitting in New York, Philadelphia and then in half a dozen places in Washington, D.C. before architect Cass Gilbert was hired to provide it with a permanent home.

In keeping with nearby congressional buildings, it has a classical Corinthian style. Vermont marble was used for the outside, while the four inner courtyards are of white Georgia marble.

2. Royal Courts of Justice

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Built in the 1870s, the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, is a large, imposing building in the Victorian Gothic style. Its front porch is adorned by the carved heads of eminent judges, while over the judges’ entrance, a stone cat and dog represent fighting litigants.

Inside, its magnificent interior contains 88 courtrooms, more than 1,000 rooms and three and a half miles of corridor. It is labyrinthine — no wonder many a trainee has got lost on their first couple of visits. (There’s also a back entrance, handy for escaping the paps in big media cases.)

3. High Court of Bombay

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The High Court of Bombay, in Mumbai, India, built in the mid-17th century, is an impressive building. Visitors can go into the courtrooms and watch the lawyers at work, and may also want to look closely at the intricately carved pillars. Among the carvings is a one-eyed monkey fiddling with the scales of justice.

4. Chiesa di San Firenze

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Florence’s law courts are housed in the Chiesa di San Firenze, two historic churches linked with an ornamental façade, and located in the centre of this beautiful city.

5. Supreme Court of Singapore

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Finally, the two Supreme Court Buildings of the Colonial District in Singapore dominate the skyline. The former court, with its domed green lead roof, was built in the 1930s, while the new one, designed by Sir Norman Foster, has a flying saucer-shaped upper tier. It is impossible to miss.

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As for the future, Zaha Hadid’s sublime design for the Madrid Civil Courts (pictured above) of Justice in 2008 used “soft, dynamic, tectonic turns” to create a structure that seemed to float above the ground. Shifting metallic panels on the exterior gave it the appearance of a coiled spring.

Sadly, owing to lack of funds, the project never materialised. Perhaps, however, Hadid’s design will one day find a home — anyone got any lead to contribute to it?

29 Comments

Dave Barrister

Oh come on LC, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal is a stunner! You cannot miss that out.

(9)(1)

Trumpenstern

what about the brutalist splendour of southend mags?

(15)(1)

Brummie Boy

The Madrid one looks like a rip off of the Bullring in Birmingham.

(12)(0)

Zander

Check out the NZ Supreme Court: the building itself is a little bit…meh, but the interior of the (sole) courtroom is really unique!

(6)(0)

Anonymous

The Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, Malaysia?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Three Beauties in Ireland- Four Courts, Dublin Criminal Courts and Sligo Courthouse.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

The CCJ must be one of the finest criminal law court buildings in the common law world.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Palace of Justice Rome

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Also these are court buildings, not a single courtroom is shown in this article.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Yet another ill thought out clickbait article from LC.

(3)(7)

Anonymous

On your own mate

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Compare the older courts illustrated above such as the RCJ and the US Supreme Court with the modernist stuff as represented by the Zahid number, I just do not get the modernist stuff, it is not an improvement, “coiled spring”, it is a Court not a kid’s toy. Furthermore, a coiled spring could arguably not be great symbolism for a Court, it is a coiled spring like the defendants who sprang themselves from prison or who sprung their assets abroad to avoid jurisdiction.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

PS and then their the Singapore one as well, shaped like a flying sauce, what because justice is an alien concept to the judges or because the claims are out of this world!!

(2)(1)

Anonymous

PPS *there is the

(0)(1)

Helpful commentator

PPPS *saucer.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The Four Courts,Dublin.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Mumbai’s judicial system dates from the seventeenth century, but the Bombay High Court building is nineteenth century.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

You’ve missed out the Watford Employment Tribunal.

(5)(0)

Boh Dear

I did a five-day trial at the Watford ET. One of the finest court buildings in the land. The exceptionally small lifts are a nice touch as are the expansive waiting rooms, deliberately stylised like a children’s classroom with seating around the outside; purpose unknown.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You poor soul.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This is a genuine comment, no sarcasm intended. Five days in Watford ET is not something any human being in a so-called civilised society should be exposed to.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I thought The Hague Peace Palace might have featured.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

The Mumbai Court was not built in the 1650s as the article suggests. Try 19th Century rather than 17th.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

White Marblised buildingof HN’Sup crt of Pak and old building of Lahore High Court also reflect beauty as compared to these shown building structures.

(0)(2)

Dublin BL

The Four Courts, Dublin. Maybe I am slightly biased but I love it.

(0)(0)

Scouser of Counsel

Chester and York Crown Courts win it for me.

Stunning court rooms.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The subject matter of thus article is fundamentally boring.

(No disrespect meant to the author at all, it was a good style of writing etc. However, this by itself, cannot redeem a boring boring topic).

(0)(2)

Hard of hearing

Pardon?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The subject matter of this article is fundamentally boring.

(No disrespect meant to the author at all, it was a good style of writing etc. However, this by itself, cannot redeem a boring boring topic. Why lead with this?)

(0)(1)

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