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AJ solves political crisis: MPs' second home design competition winners

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From a luxury cruise liner to a nuclear bunker, an Architects’ Journal competition to design ‘state-owned, temptation-free’ housing for MPs attracted a large number of curious proposals

The competition, conceived by design duo Hole in my Pocket in the wake of the expenses scandal, received more than 30 entries that were judged this week by AJ editor Kieran Long, RIBA president-elect Ruth Reed, developer Crispin Kelly, architect Cathy Hawley, organiser Allistair Burt and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

In their final deliberations the jury opted for Common Houses, a scheme that aimed ‘to increase participation in democracy through a network of local assemblies served by re-nationalised railways and ferries’. It was by Glasgow based architects Collective Architecture (see first image, above).

‘I can’t remember how long I’ve been in favour of moving parliament out of London,’ commented Ken Livingstone. ‘The Foreign Office can go to Bradford and the MoD to Liverpool, spread the jobs around a bit.’

The runners-up were Sarah Siena Edwards for her design ‘Ministers Mole Hole’ - where the London underground housed ministers - and Neil McGuire for his design ‘Redacted Residencies’ - where a system of’disproportional representation’ meant that the more of their expense claim they blacked out, the smaller the MP’s accommodation became.

Other entries included: filling the Thames with floating ‘MP pods’, giving all members motor homes and turning Westminster into a caravan park, mooring a luxury cruise liner beside the Palace of Westminster, using Battersea Power Station as a dormitory and adding living space to the side of Westminster Bridge (see above for a selection and images from the judging process).

The prize for the winning designer was the fulfilment of an MP-styled expenses claim form, plus a signed copy of Dictators’ Homes and a subscription to the AJ.

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