Studio Egret West has drawn up plans to temporarily relocate the Houses of Parliament to Bristol while the Palace of Westminster is being refurbished
Backed by Bristol’s mayor George Ferguson, the practice is proposing that MPs move into a new, short-term home on the site of a former Royal Mail sorting office next to Temple Meads Station.
The plot, which sits within the wider Arena Island and proposed Bristol Temple Quarter masterplan, was bought by Bristol City Council for £6 million in 2015 after lying derelict for 17 years.
The speculative scheme, dubbed HoP Bristol, is described as a hill that visitors ‘are invited to scale‘ and then ‘look down into the speakers’ theatre’ – a chamber shared by both houses billed as ‘an organic form designed to encourage collective decision-making’.
The long-awaited restoration of the Palace of Westminster has been proposed as a 32-year-long rolling programme of works, which could cost as much as £5.7 billion.
But a cheaper option, estimated at £3.5 billion, involves fully vacating the grade I-listed Charles Barry-designed building for six years, requiring a ‘decant’ into alternative accommodation.
It is understood the Joint Select Committee’s decision on a preferred option is imminent.
Studio Egret West hopes its concept to re-house the government in a temporary home outside the capital will ‘provoke debate around the growing economic and social disparity between London and the rest of the UK’. An exhibition at the practice’s London studio showcasing the designs opens on 19 April.
It is an opportunity to help reduce the staggering cost of restoring the Palace of Westminster
George Ferguson, the current mayor of Bristol and a former RIBA president said: ‘I love this project. Bristol is the prime UK city for government relocation and this “out of the box” idea for moving the Houses of Parliament is a great example of the sort of lateral thinking that is required. It is an opportunity to help reduce the staggering cost of restoring the Palace of Westminster and to take some of the economic heat out of London.’
He added: ‘Combined with rail electrification, bringing Bristol Temple Meads just 80 minutes from Paddington, and proposals to link the station with light rail to Bristol Airport and high speed rail to Birmingham and the North, it helps start a lively conversation as to how government can further help regenerate our regional cities and national economy following our devolution deals.’
HoP Bristol runs at Studio Egret West, 3 Brewhouse Yard, London, EC1V 4JQ, 10-6 from 19 April till 6 May.