Patricia Branco, Universidade de Coimbra, Centre for Social Studies (CES), is publishing Courthouses as Spaces of Recognition, Functionality and Access to Law and Justice: A Portuguese Reflection in volume 6 of Oñati Socio-Legal Series (2016). Here is the abstract.
One of the most overlooked topics at the level of reflection regarding law and the legal system, has been the courthouse architecture. Architecture organizes and structures space, making it intelligible, understandable, and capable of being interpreted as possible, being that the exterior and interior, as well as materials and objects present therein can facilitate or inhibit our activities through how they mean and represent certain messages. Hence it becomes necessary to make an analysis of the spaces of justice - and here I have in mind the Courthouse as a privileged public space of justice – taking into consideration the circumstances of time, place of jurisdiction, the historical, political, regulatory, and socio-cultural contexts, as well as legal tradition. Thus, and by analyzing the trends (international and national) of development of construction and / or adaptation (types of buildings and internal organization, focusing on different infrastructures and accessibility) and respective use, including, here, the representations and spatial practices of the real actors (professionals and users), I propose to consider the importance of regarding courthouses as spaces of justice, through the lenses given by the functions of recognition, functionality and access to law and justice.Download the article from SSRN at the link.