Architecture expert surveys Palace in £4bn repairs report

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt, a Kent expert in sustainable architecture, is conducting the first systematic survey of the ventilation of the Palace of Westminster.

Dr Schoenefeldt, whose work is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) project ‘Between Heritage and Sustainability’, is working on a detailed reconstruction of the House of Lords’ ventilation and how it changed over time, yielding critical new insight into the lost Victorian system.

Consequently, he has been working with surveyors and staff on the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme to explore forgotten voids inside the building. These voids formed part of the original, now disused, 19th Century ventilation system.

His research has formed part of the report into the state of the building that has led the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster to warn that it risks a crisis unless it is restored, and MPS and peers must leave both Houses of Parliament for six years while urgent repairs are undertaken.

Dr Schoenefeldt is quoted in the Joint Committee Report under chapter headed ‘The current state of the Palace of Westminster’, where the essential mechanical and electrical services are detailed.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is now considering this report. There is no timescale for a response.