Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Hopkins and Arups grilled over cost of MPs' offices

  • Comment

Delegates to the British Council for Offices conference in Glasgow last week slammed the design process behind Portcullis House, Michael Hopkins and Partners' parliamentary extension, dubbed the most expensive building in Europe.

Ove Arup faced a barrage of questions in a workshop about the decision to plan for a 200-year life, yet include seemingly inflexible concrete partitions, as well as selecting the notoriously expensive bronze facade.

Francis Ives, chairman of qs Cyril Sweett, said that even after ignoring vat and fitting out, he calculated the building cost to be £2200/m2, yet it functioned no differently to an ordinary office block, which would cost £1600/m2. 'Does the longer life cycle justify that difference?' he asked. The facade was also blamed for the high cost, because it had to be bomb-proof. But Ives said even then he would not have specified bronze.

Blame was passed back to the client by David Selby of Michael Hopkins. 'Parliament was very clear about what it wanted,' he said. Suggestions by Stephen Hackaday of Bovis that involving contractors earlier in the process would have led to cheaper techniques were also dismissed. 'The client wanted the whole design ready up front at the start,' said Selby. 'There was no way to involve others early.'

Several members of the workshop asked how such a long lifespan and concrete internal walls were justified when there was so much uncertainty about the constitution even five years ahead. 'We have already seen devolution, the House of Lords may go and we may face big changes through use of high- technology,' said one.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Sign Up for AJ Jobs Alerts

Interview the right candidate on AJ Jobs