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Why do the Houses of Parliament need restoration?

Published on: 27 Feb 2023

Why do the Houses of Parliament need restoration?
It is widely agreed that the Houses of Parliament need essential restoration, but this is no ordinary renovation. The 150-year-old Palace of Westminster was built at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign. It is enormous and complex – 34 acres and the size of more than 1000 houses, all sharing the same water, electric, sewage and gas system, many of which are past or nearing the end of their working life.

There are 65 different levels, with more than 100 staircases, and only one lift that meets modern-day standards for accessibility. As well as being one of the UK’s biggest buildings, the Palace is one of the nation’s busiest workplaces, with thousands of people on site each day, from catering and security staff, to MPs and Peers, to experts keeping this iconic building running.


What are the aims of the Restoration & Renewal programme?

The programme will secure the future of the Palace as the home of the UK Parliament and preserve its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The benefits include:

  • providing all the services needed by a modern, accessible and accountable Parliament
  • improved disabled access for visitors and staff
  • improved fire safety and removal of risks caused by asbestos
  • restoration of extensively decayed stonework
  • repair or replacement of the 4000 bronze windows
  • increased energy efficiency, with lower running costs and a significantly reduced carbon footprint
  • reduced demand for costly emergency repairs
  • reduced risk of major disruption to the work of Parliament caused by sudden service failure.

Respecting the historic building
The Restoration & Renewal programme requires judicious interventions to be undertaken within a Grade 1 listed building that will enable it to address the challenges Parliament will face in the 21st century. These interventions will help deliver better outcomes for the building’s users and visitors. The structural engineering solutions will be developed over time as the designs mature and engineers will work closely with the architecture, building services, fire and accessibility consultants to enable design solutions to be developed that respect the historic building and address the complex needs of Parliament.

Do you have the skills to join our engineering team?
We need experienced structural/civil engineers who are familiar with working on historic buildings of huge national significance. An extensive working knowledge of historic building techniques is a requisite, as you will need to be able to consider, review and comment on structural interventions as the designs progress. Technical assurance of designs prepared by the programme’s architecture and engineering team are also key and you will need to assess the proposed interventions against the Palace’s significant fabric while being a place of work for many people. You will also need to be experienced in working in a multidisciplinary team and working to a complex, technically challenging programme. If you would like to be a part of not only one of the most technically challenging programmes you’ll ever work on, but also the largest building restoration project ever undertaken in the UK, please visit the link below.