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During Westminster palace renovation, floating structure could provide a temporary home for parliament

Architecture firm Gensler says their raft would save the project more than $2 billion

A report released last month urgently advocated for the renovation of the Palace of Westminster’s aging infrastructure which poses a catastrophic risk to the survival iconic building. But executing the six-year, £4 billion plan means finding another place to temporarily house the heart of the U.K. political system—the House of Commons and House of Lords.

That’s when international architecture firm Gensler had its lightbulb moment: why not float Parliament on an modular barge in the Thames while Westminster is being restored?

Covered in an undulating screen of glass, the 250-meter-long wooden-framed structure would be secured to temporary piles in the river. Officials would enter it from a tube connected to the shore at the south end of the palace through the Black Rod’s Garden entrance.

The roughly 92,570-square-foot barge could be built in less than three years and floated into position well in time for renovations on Westminster to begin.

By Gensler’s calculations, this high-tech parliamentary raft could shave a whopping £1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) off the cost of the restoration project. And after the MPs and Lords and have moved back into the Palace of Westminster, the structure could be repurposed for a floating museum or other use.

  • US architect floats "radical" plan to house UK MPs on raft in the Thames [GCR]