Anatomical Reconstruction

House of Lords Information OfficeWestminster24th April 2014

The Victorian stack ventilation is no longer operational but archival evidence allows to reconstruct its design in great detail. The archival material comprises letters, sketches, diaries architectural plans, parliamentary papers as well as articles published in the nineteenth-century scientific and technical literature. Combing archival research with surveys of the existing fabric, the project will undertake a detailed anatomical reconstruction of the historical arrangements.

It will individually examine the design of the separate systems deployed in different parts of the Houses of Parliament. The building was not served by one but multiple systems. It was divided into a several sectors, each served by its own local system. The earliest systems used inside the House of Lords and Commons, for instance, were developed separately by different teams and also followed different principles.

This project will provide the first detailed study of these local systems. The existing literature on the history of the Palace provides overviews of the general principles behind ventilation system, focusing largely on Reid’s early plans, which were never fully realized. The actual ventilation arrangements incorporated into the Houses of Parliament, however, have only received marginal attention from architectural historians. The reconstructed designs will be presented in a series of drawings. 3-D models and animations will also be developed in collaboration with students from the MA in Architectural Visualisation at the University of Kent.