It was recently revealed that the Houses of Parliament might close for up to five years for renovations. While the building is structurally sound, many of the facilities (and ideas) within the complex are said to be long out of date. In other words, they’re going to decommission the secret nuclear bunker and install a state-of-the-art citizen monitoring facility, plus a reinforced concrete Pandorica to restrain George Osborne.
With the Houses of Parliament potentially out of action for the first time since WWII, where else might our Honourable Members, Lords and Ladies gather?
1. Olympic Stadium
No one’s found a suitable legacy use for the stadium yet, despite protracted efforts. With a seating capacity of some 80,000, we could vastly increase the size of the two chambers, or else let the public in to watch live debates.
- Pros: Seb Coe has worked in both Houses of Parliament AND the Olympic Stadium, so has the expertise to make this happen.
- Cons: You’d need to get Brian Blessed in the Speaker’s chair to keep order in such a large bowl. Actually, file that under ‘Pros’.
2. Parliament Hill
Why the hill on Hampstead Heath is so-called remains something of a mystery. Some sources say it was defended by Parliamentarian troops in the English Civil Wars, others reckon that Guy Fawkes planned to watch his handiwork from the mount. Either way, the name would certainly be appropriate for an encamped Parliament. Better yet, we could house the Commons up here on the commons, and the Lords down the road at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
- Pros: Pleasing nominative resonance.
- Cons: Angry Druids; rain.
3. Battersea Power Station
The crumbling landmark has received more proposals than Elizabeth Taylor, but remains an icon of the capital.
- Pros: Would bring a cherished building back to life; close to the new US embassy and Northern Line extension.
- Cons: Endless tabloid puns about ‘hot air’ escaping from the chimneys; recent failures by the Cybermen and Richard III show the building makes a crappy power base.
4. Penguin Pool, London Zoo
Berthold Lubetkin’s penguin pool is an art deco classic. Sadly, the Grade I listed structure is an example of form trumping function — its avian residents were moved to more comfortable accommodation eight years ago. The 1930′s pool remains as an architectural curiosity, but has no permanent purpose.
- Pros: Photoshop fun.
- Cons: Way too small.
5. Madame Tussauds
If there’s one London venue more beloved of tourists than the current Houses of Parliament, this is it. Half the Cabinet are already present in effigy. It’s within strolling distance of five rail termini. It would also allow the creation of a tricameral Parliament, with Chambers Upper, Lower and Horrors.
- Pros: Guaranteed a full house for every debate, via strategic placement of dummies.
- Cons: If there’s one thing more sinister than the real George Osborne, it’s a wax George Osborne.
Where do you reckon Parliament should be held, and why? The best answer wins a kiss from Michael Gove. Possibly.