Work starts on MPs' `Legoland' home before they have anywhere to put it

More than pounds 90m has been spent on a "Legoland" office block being pieced together for MPs at Westminster.

Construction of the pounds 250m bronze and sandstone offices started in January, on the site opposite Big Ben where London Underground has been laying the new Jubilee Line.

But while the Parliamentary Works Directorate has been waiting for London Underground to complete and clear the site, a lot of the work on the new Commons office building has been going on around the country.

A project spokesman told The Independent that it had been decided to prefabricate as much of the new building as possible, with work already substantially completed on sandstone columns from Derbyshire, granite plinths and walling, precast concrete floors, columns and arches. "All the flooring units come ready-made, and they'll slot on top of the columns; that's where talk of the Lego kit comes in," the spokesman said.

"The columns are individual stones, but they come ready-made in storey- high units with a big metal bar through the middle of them, and a bolt at each end to turn it together.

"The on-site job is really just putting it all together and bolting it up, and making sure it's wind and weather-proof." When it is completed, the new building will provide individual offices for more than 200 MPs and their staff, with six select- committee rooms - one equipped for simultaneous translation - eight conference rooms, exhibition space, restaurant and canteen facilities, a post office and "a necessities shop". Already called Portcullis House, after the Westminster insignia, it is expected to be ready for occupation from the beginning of 2001. Sir Sydney Chapman, Conservative chairman of the all-party Commons Accommodation and Works Committee, has said that Michael Hopkins and Partners, the architects, had been commissioned "to produce a building designed for a life of 200 years or more, using materials of high quality, including natural stone, bronze and English oak, as befits a site of international importance."

But while the building is being built to last, with roofing and windows made of aluminium and bronze, The Independent has been told that there is no question of furnishing it with the kind of luxurious fittings that have been commissioned in the existing Palace of Westminster.

The new building will contain none of the hand-printed wallpaper, or luxury furnishings, which provoked the recent row over the pounds 650,000 redecoration of the Lord Chancellor's apartments.

"There will be no wallpaper at all in the building," one source said, "so we can scotch that one; there will be no hand-printed wallpaper."

The building will also be carpeted with carpet-tiles, rather than the hand-made, Pugin-design carpeting used in the main parliamentary building. "We will be going to the manufacturers for a standard product," the project spokesman said. "It will be a plain background with a black spot on it, and the office furniture will be bought off the market. What the House decided was that we had to build a building which was not to the standards of the speculative office developer, knowing it was going to be pulled down in 30 years' time. We are building on the presumption that Parliament lasts for ever."

The pounds 250m budget makes allowance for forecast construction price inflation up to the year 2000, and includes the purchase of the site, all fees and expenses, furnishing and fitting out costs, including value-added tax.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat