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Firm floats 'radical' idea for Palace of Westminster replacement

Published 02/10/2016

The Palace of Westminster is to undergo a massive restoration programme, estimated to take at least six years
The Palace of Westminster is to undergo a massive restoration programme, estimated to take at least six years

A quirky replacement has been proposed for when the Palace of Westminster closes for major refurbishment - and it would be on the River Thames.

The 250m long "radical" structure, designed by architect Gensler, features an elongated glass dome built over a wooden frame, all sitting on steel platforms set in the river, about 10m away from the palace.

Designers say the building could be made in shipyards across the UK in less than three years before being floated down the river into place.

The firm says the futuristic design is inspired by the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall, which was commissioned by Richard II in 1393 and is one of the few remaining parts of the original medieval building.

The Grade 1 listed palace is set to close as it undergoes a massive restoration programme, estimated to take at least six years.

The multi-billion pound makeover is not expected to begin before 2023.

In total, the Gensler structure would cover 8,600 square metres and designers say it would be able to hold all of Parliament "under one roof".

Ian Mulcahey, the design firm's managing director, said: "The concept provides a simple solution to what is a very complex problem.

"The challenge has been to find a location that enables all the key components of Parliament to be located together in close proximity to the wider Government estate in Whitehall.

"The Palace of Westminster is one of the most important symbols of democracy in the world.

"This scheme provides a powerful expression of continuity and reinforces UK's world-leading creative expertise."

Duncan Swinhoe, regional managing principal at Gensler, also hinted towards how the temporary replacement could be used once the palace is back open for business.

He said: "Once the refurbishment of the palace is complete, the modular structure could be relocated and adapted to provide a permanent legacy such as a museum for democracy or alternatively a new parliament for an emerging overseas democracy."

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