The Palace of Westminster is in a dire need of renovation. The architectural structure is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most well-known pieces of architecture. Parts of it date back to the 1000s, which is also currently a problem. It is home of British Lords and MPs, who now need a new work address – temporarily of course. Architects may have a solution.
Gensler, the world’s biggest architecture firm, has proposed a floating bubble-like building on River Thames. The goal is to reduce the cost of refurbishing the Palace of Westminster.
Architects’ Floating Concept
The firm’s concept is based on the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall. 250-meter long and 42-meter deep, “the building would be a dramatic, high-tech, wooden-framed structure covering 8,600 square metres, which would provide all the necessary environmental and acoustic containment,” explains Gensler.
With the propose design, MPs do not have to move to a different location as they will have a tunnel to the main parts of the building while all the urgent works to the historic building take place.
The refurbishment of the Westminster Palace will take around 6 years, meaning the MPs would have to relocate to a different building. “The challenge has been to find a location that enables all the key components of Parliament to be located together in close proximity to the wider Government estate in Whitehall,” explains Ian Mulcahey, Gensler’s Managing Director.
The construction of the floating parliament, code name Project Poseidon, would take three years. It would take place at a handful of shipyards around the UK. The pieces could then be shipped across the Thames to be assembled in their final place. Duncan Swinhoe, Regional Managing Principal at Gensler, identifies another benefit of the floating structure: “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.”
The costs of renovation and relocation are estimated to be between £4 billion and £7 billion. According to Gensler, their proposal would would cost around £160 million, which means it would save £1.8 billion saving in decanting and rental costs.