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Hopkins: 'Portcullis House could solve Parliament's rehousing problems'

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MPs could use the atrium in Portcullis House as a temporary chamber while the Houses of Parliament are being restored, says the 2001 building’s architect Michael Hopkins

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Hopkins said the best solution would be to house MPs in Portcullis House for the duration of the renovation.

Portcullis House is adjacent to the grounds of the Palace of Westminster and provides offices for 213 members of parliament and their staff. The building incorporates Westminster tube station below it, and the entire structure was nominated for the 2001 Stirling Prize.

‘The House of Commons chamber is very small,’ Hopkins said, ’and it would fit very easily – almost exactly – into half the space of the atrium in Portcullis House and it would continue operating exactly as it has done, but very conveniently you would have the chamber right in the middle.

‘It’s an absolute no-brainer. The only danger is that it would be so convenient they would never want to go back to the old chamber.’

In less than three weeks, MPs will vote on three options for the continuation of parliamentary activity while a multi-billion repair programme takes place.

According to the Sunday Times,  Edward Leigh, a Conservative MP campaigning for MPs to remain in Parliament during the works, said – following a meeting with Hopkins – that it was ‘amazing’ the option has been ignored.

In July, BDP defeated Foster + Partners, Allies and Morrison and HOK to win the job for the restoration. CH2M was chosen to deliver programme, project and cost management services on the scheme.

The teams were shortlisted two years ago following an independent options appraisal drawn up by HOK which suggested five main scenarios for parliament’s overhaul.

These ranged in cost from £3.5 billion to £5.7 billion and could see MPs moving out of the building for up to 11 years.

Portcullis House has had its own problems, including issues with the glazing in the roof panels over the main atrium space.

However, a technical study commissioned by the House of Commons’ Strategic Estates team in 2015 concluded that despite the issues the roof would last its 30-year lifespan.

The study looked at movements in the roof over a year-long cycle and confirmed that it was structurally stable and posed no safety risk.

Portcullis House in Westminster

Portcullis House in Westminster

Portcullis House in Westminster

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Portcullis House atrium might be fine for a mock up of the combatively-shaped Commons chamber. But the absolute no brainer is to de-rail the whole gravy train and send it up HS2/3 to Manchester or - why not - to learn what a more sane debating forum feels like by sharing Miralles' space with the MSPs (every second day?... week?)

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