This handbook suggests ways of reinventing town halls as open, animated public spaces. It will be of interest to designers, local councillors and local council officers and anyone interested in architecture and civic life.

Local government works best where it succeeds in involving the public, fostering civic pride and building trust. The appearance and working area of the town hall - the most public face of local government - can play a vital role in achieving these ends. Yet many local councils remain oblivious to the message sent by their town halls and other democratic meetings places.

This handbook draws on national and international examples, including unpublished new designs by a range of leading contemporary designers, to suggest ways of reinventing town halls as open animated public spaces. "I welcome this book. It reminds us that good contemprary design can help restore that civic pride, make government more accessible and help connect people to their elected representatives."

-Julia Barfield, Marks Barfield Architects