Courthouses So Gorgeous, You’ll Want To Get Sued

Photographer Lica Sironi reveals the serene beauty of courthouses after the court proceedings have ended and the spaces are empty.

The architecture of courtrooms are are often grand, ornate, and historical, though the people inside have little opportunity to sit back and appreciate it. “The emotional tension that fills these spaces can be overwhelming,” says Italian photographer Luca Sironi, whose work often highlights the beauty of spaces that are typically thought of as purely functional, like municipal buildings and tourist huts. For his latest series, Fragments of Justice, Sironi turns his lens on the courthouses in his native Northern Italy, capturing the spaces when they’re empty and at their most serene.


Sironi shot his first courthouse in Cremona, Italy, a 1799 converted palace chapel. An intricate domed ceiling, marble columns, and an elaborate chandelier all make up the awe-inspiring space. Inspired by the dramatic setting, Sironi started traveling to other cities in Northern Italy to document the interior architecture of the legal system. Out of the 31 courts he reached out to, he received 19 replies inviting him to shoot the space. In Milan, he captured the austere beauty of a courthouse, which contains a beautiful mosaic that Mario Sironi made in 1936. In Lodi, he found a courthouse that was geometric and linear–a stark contrast to the ornate medieval buildings he’d seen elsewhere.

Sironi used a Canon 5D with wide-angle lens to shoot the spaces, preferring to use only natural light when possible. He set up his camera on a tripod and shot a long series of photos for however long he was allowed in the space. He depicts all the courthouses empty, which he says allows the viewer to insert her own perceptions of court processions into the images.

Still, removing all traces of human activity was impossible. “As the project took shape, I realized that in the courtrooms there were almost always some elements present–some binders, the toga of a lawyer, and other elements that are marginal but that directly alluded to human presence during the judicial activities,” he says. “Fragments of justice that remain.”

All Photos: Luca Sironi


About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.