A redesign of the Palace of Westminster could help break the Brexit deadlock, according to an architecture firm which has drawn up bold new plans.
Axiom Architects has produced CGI images of a more 'democratic' Parliament, featuring open plan spaces where MPs could work together collaboratively. The firm cites the 'confrontational design' of the current Houses of Parliament as one of the factors responsible for the current political deadlock.
Bursting the 'Westminster Bubble'
The plans — which are admittedly a publicity stunt and in no way going to be implemented in real-life — include the introduction of a new central debating space, and the repurposing of some of the estate's existing buildings.
A new Central Assembly Hall replaces the current debating chamber, swapping the dark timber panelling with transparent glass, allowing natural light in — and perhaps alerting MPs that there is a world outside the 'Westminster Bubble'. Rather than having MPs opposing each other face to face, the space has been made circular to encourage collaborative, rather than confrontational, debate, in a hemicycle design similar to that used in City Hall and Scottish Parliament.
Big Ben* and the Victoria Tower have undergone a transformation too. Digital information screens have been added to the former to keep outsiders informed of what's going on inside the hallowed halls, and co-working and co-living space has been added to the Victoria Tower for members of the media and MPs.
Axiom Architects Partner James Mitchell said
Our designs seek to make the buildings as permeable and accessible as possible. We want to encourage collaboration and openness, rather than division and conflict – which are exactly the qualities we need in this increasingly uncertain political climate.
We’re not saying that changing the architecture of Westminster will resolve Brexit overnight, but embracing a more democratic style of architecture could help promote more productive political discourse.
While we're dubious that knocking down a few walls is our way out of Brexit Hell, there's no denying that the current building is archaic and no longer fit for purpose — it's due to undergo a lengthy (and pricey) revamp in the next few years.
Who knows, perhaps we will end up with something not dissimilar to the above — after all, this blending of old and modern structures can already be seen at the likes of King's Cross station and the British Museum.
*Yes, we know.