Restoring the Palace of Westminster

scaffolding on the Houses of Parliament

Research into the Houses of Parliament’s Victorian ventilation system between sustainability and heritage.

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt is based in the School of Architecture and Planning. HIs research into the Houses of Parliament’s 19th-century ventilation system has had key impacts on the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme, underpinning the work of the client team and various external consultants involved in the restoration.

This research project is the first study to examine the Houses of Parliament ventilation system through a methodology combining architectural research with onsite investigations and technical analysis.

Dr Schoenefeldt was seconded to Parliament to lead three research projects funded through grants from the AHRC and UK government. The secondment enabled Dr Schoenefeldt to gain access to the building and develop a critical understanding of the design, operation and technical performance of the historic systems, and to investigate how far they could be re-utilised in the context of the restoration programme.

As a direct result of this research, it was made a requirement within the client’s design brief that there will be a re-utilisation and integration of the historic system within the design of the modern and sustainable ventilation scheme. This requirement was also enshrined within the Palace of Westminster Conservation Management Plan, which sets out new policies for the preservation and reuse of the technological heritage.