Westminster Palace Restoration

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, are commonly known as the ‘Houses of Parliament’. The history and the value of this building is of a great meaning and like a trophy for the architect and the honorable HOK.

Courtesy of Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library/Alamy

Courtesy of Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library/Alamy

“The Palace has reached a turning point in its history, with many features needing major renovation”, said Dr. Richard Ware, Program Director for the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal. “These include antiquated heating, ventilation, water, drainage and electrical systems combined with extensive stonework decay, leaking roofs, corrosion and the need to improve fire containment. Even the intensive program of urgent repairs carried out over the last five years is barely scratching the surface”. 

 

Courtesy of Nick Weall

Courtesy of Nick Weall

HOK took the crone of £1bn-plus Palace of Westminster refurbishment scheme. The project would not have to do any economy, “at this stage we have not been authorized to look into that or cost it in detail”, Ware said. The 250-page report details five scenarios range from a ‘do minimum’ gradual approach, which would take 32 years, to ‘a full move out’ which would mean that parliamentarians can no longer work in the building for six years. Possible options for a temporary, alternative building have previously included the nearby Queen Elizabeth II building and the Central Methodist Hall. Such premises would have to be found in the ‘near future’ even if work did not start before 2020.

 

Illustration by Andrzej Krauze

Illustration by Andrzej Krauze

The main New Palace Yard, in the shadow of the Great Clock, could be completely reworked, with a lower central grass area. The top floor of the underground car park below the Yard would be turned into meeting rooms and reception areas, with natural light coming in from the newly ‘landscaped courtyard’.

 

“Developers could vastly improve the facilities within the Houses of the Parliament, the report says. Lifts could be installed in the Elizabeth Tower, where the bell ‘Big Ben’ is housed, air conditioning could be installed more widely and an atrium could be built to cover at least two of the courtyards. New retail centers and visitor centers could be added as well as the opportunity to improve wheelchair access and build a multi-faith prayer room could be improved.

Courtesy of Nick Weall

Courtesy of Nick Weall

“Few landmarks can rival the enormous historic, cultural and political significance of the Palace of Westminster”, said Larry Malcic, Design Principal in HOK’s London office. “The challenges involved in its restoration and renewal are unique. Our extensive understanding of the building’s architectural heritage, underpinned by our two decades of experience working at the Palace and across Whitehall, has informed the report’s findings on what each scenario would aim to achieve and how to manage such a complex design project”. 

Project Information:

Location: Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Architect: Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin
Restoration Architect: HOK
Project Year: 1835
Restoration: 2020

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