A TEMPORARY HOME FOR THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
THE GOVERNMENT COULD DEMONSTRATE ITS COMMITMENT TO TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS BY SENSITIVELY TRANSFORMING RICHMOND HOUSE INTO A LANDMARK LOW ENERGY BUILDING OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE.
Under the terms of a government plan to tackle climate change, greenhouse gas emissions in the UK will be cut to almost zero by 2050. At the same time, the government proposes to demolish the majority of the grade 2* listed Richmond House in London’s Whitehall in order to construct new offices and a third permanent Chamber.
The reuse of good office buildings like Richmond House is crucial if the UK is to meet this ambitious target. Instead of a new building, we proposed constructing a temporary House of Commons chamber within the existing courtyard of Richmond House and refurbishing the existing offices to make space for MPs and their staff.
Richmond House was completed in 1987. It is listed grade II* – which places it in the top 6% of all listed buildings in England and is recognised for its high architectural quality. We have been commissioned by conservation group Save Britain’s Heritage to help make the case for saving the building.
The building still meets many of the design criteria set out for good working environments today and re-use is the most effective way of minimising carbon emissions before 2050. Constructing a new building would generate over 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions (CO2e) and would take at least 75 years before it will “catch up” with the emissions associated with a mid-level eco-refurbishment of Richmond House. That’s longer than a new building is likely to last. In both environmental and cost terms, providing a temporary Commons Chamber within Richmond House is a win-win.
Previous Prime Minister Theresa May said there was a “moral duty to leave this world in a better condition than what we inherited”. Reducing emissions means recycling more buildings. We are moving into an era where we should oppose the demolition of all buildings unless the case is unanswerable and a generational commitment is needed now to achieve this target. Saving Richmond House would underpin the government’s commitment to its own policy and send a strong leadership message from the heart of our democracy at a time we most need it.
CLIENT: SAVE BRITAIN'S HERITAGE