Categories ArchitecturePosted on

A Temporary Westminster

Gensler, the international architecture, design and planning firm has revealed their radical solution to the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament. The solution, modular in structure, is estimated by the House Committee to save the British Taxpayer more than £1.8 billion and permits the repairs to the Palace of Westminster to continue apace.

Gensler, the international architecture, design and planning firm has revealed their radical solution to the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament. The solution, modular in structure, is estimated by the House Committee to save the British Taxpayer more than £1.8 billion and permits the repairs to the Palace of Westminster to continue apace.

The proposed design lies alongside the Members’ Terrace, maintaining the relationship between the Houses of Commons and Lords and their supporting committee rooms, involving a new entrance from the south side of the Palace.

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The repairs to the Palace dictate that the building must be decanted for six years, but Gensler’s design solution enables the essential business of parliament to continue in a dedicated structure, avoiding the dispersal of parliamentary activity all over London with its attendant difficulties. Lying next to the Terrace, the structure avoids disrupting the traffic of the Thames, which takes the central channel. The river also affords greater security.

Taking its design from the splendid hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall, which was originally commissioned by Richard II in 1393 and is the largest mediaeval timber roof in Northern Europe, the new parliamentary structure would be built on a series of steel platforms. The building above would be dramatic, high-tech and composed of a wooden-framed structure covering 8,600 square metres. Shipyards across the UK would be commissioned to build the design and float it down the Thames to be secured in place; a proposal that echoes the pageantry of past eras.

The Regional Managing Principal at Gensler, Duncan Swinhoe said: “This not only provides a fitting short-term solution to the relocation issue, it also provides some exciting long-term opportunities. Once the refurbishment of the Palace is complete, the modular structure could be relocated and adapted to provide a permanent legacy such as a Museum for Democracy, or alternatively a new parliament for an emerging overseas democracy.”

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Credits

Photography courtesy of Gensler

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