Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The Palace of Westminster needs renewal in more ways than one

Catherine Slessor wrote in the Observer about the "fussy, frivolous neo-gothic wedding cake" that is the  Palace of Westminster.

While it undergoes a £4bn restoration, it will he housed in Richmond House on Whitehall. the building will be gutted so that a replica of the current Commons chamber can be fitted inside.

Which means that the oblong shape and the two sides of the house glaring at one another will be maintained.

As Slessor says:
 Doubtless MPs will find it comforting, a green leather umbilicus connecting them with the ailing mothership, but it does seem like another missed opportunity to experiment with alternative layouts and explore different ways of conducting debate. 
Both the devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments have embraced the continental hemicycle without mishap, and the tone of their encounters seems more civilised for it.
Other nations have used the need to renew their parliament building as an opportunity for modernisation. But::
Hopelessly infatuated with a Victorian vision of itself, Britain seems set on the opposite course, committed to painstakingly licking Barry and Pugin’s decaying wedding cake back into shape.
The video above, from the University of Sheffield's Sir Bernard Crick Centre, makes much the same case.

My own solution of allowing the Palace of Westminster to fall into decay - "Imagine how much more attractive it would be as a ruin alive with feral cats, buddleias and fragments of Gothic tracery" - and having parliament meet at Arkwright's Mill in Cromford remains underexplored.


nigel hunter said...

A country stuck in the past
Do it up use it as a tourist haunt to MAKE MONEY FOR THE COUNTRY
A new building is a must.
We must be dragged into the future kicking and screaming or decline into obscurity

Phil Beesley said...

Granada TV built a replica HoC debating chamber for the drama "First Among Equals" which was used for other productions afterwards. Perhaps the current owner, screenwriter Paul Abbott, may be able to help?