Detail photographed from below, of the state parliament NRW

Three questions for André Kuper, president of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia


North Rhine-Westphalia’s state parliament turns 35

The building of the Landtag, or state parliament, of North Rhine-Westphalia was officially opened on 2 October 1988. To celebrate its 35th anniversary, it hosted a Parliament Night, which attracted 4,500 visitors to the Rhine-side building. The event featured a varied cultural programme that included saxophonist Lennart Allkemper, soul musician BB Thomaz and Japanese magician Yuta Maruyama. Since 2018, the state parliament has also regularly organised the Parliament Talks, first inaugurated by its president, André Kuper. Previous participants have included notable public figures such as journalists Ulrich Wickert and Dunja Hayali, and former German President Joachim Gauck. The topics range from antisemitism and the future of federalism to hate speech on social media. We asked André Kuper three questions about the Landtag and Düsseldorf.

A magician with bits of string around his fingers is kneeling in front of a little girl, showing her a magic trick.
Japanese magician Yuta Maruyama was one of the guests at Parliament Night.

Mr Kuper, how would you characterise the architectural significance of the Landtag?
The Landtag is the symbol of North Rhine-Westphalia’s democracy. Located in the heart of Düsseldorf – overlooking the Rhine, the old quarter and the MedienHafen – it is a central part of the state capital’s cultural and political life. With its circular design, the structure set new standards for parliament buildings 35 years ago. The parliamentarians wanted a round plenary chamber that would allow everyone to face each other during debates. The architects Eller and Eller produced a masterpiece, as well as creating an architectural expression of democracy. All of the spaces required for parliamentary business are arranged around the plenary chamber, including the committee rooms and the offices used by the members of parliament and the political parties. But the architects Eller and Eller have also translated another characteristic of democracy into stone, namely transparency. The glass that covers the exterior and dominates around the entrance symbolises the fact that citizens are able to observe the parliamentary business and political decision-making. Those who hold the ultimate power can watch their elected representatives at work and see democracy in action. We have also launched an extensive list of programmes and events to make the democratic process even more tangible. Our recent Parliament Night allowed more than 4,500 people from all over the state to see the building in quite a different light. Democracy needs to be a lived experience.

André Kuper, president of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, stands in front of a wall in the colours of North Rhine-Westphalia: green, red and white.
André Kuper, president of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia.

What sort of things can visitors to the Landtag look forward to?
There are all kinds of ways for people to see what goes on here. It is possible to watch plenary and committee meetings live, for example. And once a month, the Landtag is open to visitors on a Sunday. There are also special events for children, young people and refugees. If you are interested in visiting our state parliament you can find all the information required online. In addition to the various visitor programmes, you can also enjoy the building with a somewhat different atmosphere during Museums Night, International Children’s Day and Parliament Night.

Apart from the Landtag, what is your favourite place in Düsseldorf?
The banks of the Rhine are particularly special when I’m on my early-morning jog. And I also enjoy swimming lengths at the Rheinblick 741 pool.

For more information on visiting the state parliament, see

Interview: Cynthia Blasberg
Photos: Press

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