Playground Politics: Youth Suffrage and Spatial Pedagogy
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
How would architecture, education and society change if youth suffrage were introduced into UK democracy?
The project imagines a future where young people have been enfranchised to redress the power imbalance that their absence causes in democracy. The project’s proposal is a school placed in the City of London Borough where the student’s political knowledge is nourished and their political agency is encouraged. Pedagogical spaces and systems have been reimagined in the scheme to accommodate youth enfranchisement, address the social and political awareness voting should require and access education through a mature holistic, issues-based learning network.
When youth suffrage is discussed, the voting age usually mooted is 16, however some have suggested this is no longer radical enough to address the widening age-based democratic power gap. Cambridge Professor David Runciman has suggested lowering the voting age to six (the UK reading age) as the only effective way of fixing our democratic system.
Reasoning that ‘Plenty of the adults currently allowed to vote know nothing about politics and/or are unrealistic in their expectations […] stopping most young people from voting means that the UK’s policies and politicians rarely reflect their values and views.’ Professor Runciman sees this as a crucial step to making UK democracy fairer and more representative.
Although it may seem like a frivolous or dangerous idea, extreme youth enfranchisement is worth investigating seriously, as our society is facing a democratic crisis due to the power imbalance that exists between the old and the young. People are living longer and longer and continuing to vote, whilst the young remain chronically under-represented. Analysis by the British Electoral Survey has shown that generations tend to vote for policies and people who directly represent themselves, voting empathetically unfortunately seems to be a rare occurrence.
School of Architecture
MA Architecture, 2019
- BA (Hons) Architecture, London South Bank University, 2011
- Architectural assistant, Fleet Architects, London, 2015-18