Norman Foster has backed plans to hold an architectural competition for a new House of Lords chamber outside London
The 84-year-old architect, himself a former member of the House of Lords, said the government should aim for a ‘great building’ outside the capital.
In a letter published in The Times today (22 January), the architect – writing as Lord Foster and president of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust – said the ‘power of architecture’ should be used ‘to express our political and economic ambitions’.
At the weekend, The Sunday Times reported that Boris Johnson wants to move the upper chamber of Parliament – including its 800 peers – out of London, with York reported to be the favoured location and Birmingham also under consideration.
Speaking to Sky on Sunday (19 January), Tory Party chair James Cleverly said: ‘What we are looking at is a whole range of options about making sure every part of the UK feels properly connected from politics.
‘When the PM stood up the day after the election and said this is going to be the people’s government he meant it. That meant connecting people with government and politics.’
In his letter, Foster advised the government ‘to take a cue’ from the ambitious approach of the Victorians, who understood ‘how great buildings could demonstrate confidence in our future’.
He added: ‘If we are to build a new House of Lords, we must set our sights every bit as high and produce work that represents the very best that our age can offer. An architectural competition, backed by a clear brief, would be the place to start.’
Foster was forced to give up his seat in the House of Lords in 2010, two years after it was revealed that he spent most of his time in Switzerland and was non-resident in the UK for tax purposes. However, he kept his title as Lord Foster of Thames Bank.