Parliament repairs bill could hit £6bn

the houses of parliament...

MPs and peers have been told that they'll have to move out of the Houses of Parliament for six years or face double the bill for repairs.

If they move out, according to the leaked findings of a panel of experts, the work could be completed in six years, at a cost of £3 billion. If they stay, however, the cost would be £6 billion, and the work would take as much as 32 years to complete.

The Palace of Westminster has been neglected for decades. It's stuffed with asbestos, parts of the stonework are crumbling away, and it needs new plumbing and wiring. The roof leaks, and fire safety measures are inadequate. Maintenance costs £30 million a year.

A report due to be released later this week will examine three options for restoring the buildings to their former glory.

The cheapest and quickest is to move MPs and peers to the Methodist Central Hall on Parliament Square - their temporary home after bomb damage during the Second World War - or the nearby Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

But many MPs are wary of this option, fearing that they'd never be allowed back in, and that the buildings would become a hotel or tourist attraction.

"I regard it not only as a vital heart to our democracy, but one of the great historic buildings of the world," Commons Leader Chris Grayling told MPs last week.

"Instinctively, I think it is important that this building remains consistently at the heart of our democracy and that we do not end up being forced to move somewhere else."

Staying put, meanwhile, would mean more than three decades of disruption, and cost twice as much.

A third, compromise option would see people decanted in batches, for example by clearing the House of Commons in one stage and the House of Lords in another. This, says the report, would mean the work could be carried out in about ten years.

There are also different options for the scale of the work, ranging from a bare-bones approach tackling only the most important issues to one involving making significant improvements.

A joint committee of MPs and peers is expected to be set up to examine the report, reaching a recommendation early next year on which plan to adopt. MPs and peers will then vote on whether to accept the plan.

Visit Houses of Parliament in London, United Kingdom

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Parliament repairs bill could hit £6bn

The Binoculars Building, originally called the Chiat/Day Building, was constructed in Venice, Los Angeles, in 1991 at a cost of £12.8 million. However, the owners recently mortgaged the building for £15.4 million.

Designed by the world-famous architect Frank Gehry, it forms the entrance to an office building that is now Google’s headquarters in Los Angeles and there is 75,000 square feet of space inside.

Perhaps a building-shaped like google glasses will be the next building they move into.

This toilet shaped house is called Hawoojae, which means “a place of sanctuary where one can solve one’s worries” in Korean. The steel, concrete and glass building was constructed in Suwon, South Korea, in 2007 at a cost of £700,000.

The toilet design of the 4,520 square-foot building is quite deliberate. It was built by the late mayor of Suwon, Sim Jae-Duck, to raise awareness about the need for efficient sanitation worldwide.

“The toilet is not merely a place for excretion. It can save humankind from diseases,” he once told delegates at a World Toilet Association meeting, an organisation he founded in 2007 to improve toilet provision throughout the world - earning himself the nickname ‘Mr Toilet’.

Although it was once Jae-Duck’s home, the property is now a toilet museum. Inside, visitors can view quirky toilet-themed exhibits, such as WC signs from around the world and lavatory-inspired works of art.

To get up to the roof-top balcony, you have to walk up a ‘toilet drain’ staircase and, as you might expect, there is an attention-grabbing showcase bathroom with glass walls that turn opaque at the touch of a button.

Outside, there’s a toilet ‘culture park’ featuring bronze statues moving their bowels while squatting on the ground.

This lotus-shaped building is called ‘The Lotus Temple’. Located in New Delhi, India, it took six years to build and cost nearly £13 million in 1986.

A Bahá’í house of worship, it is capable of holding up to 2,500 people and is made of 10,000 square metres of marble, quarried in Greece and cut in Italy before being shipped to India.

The concept of symmetry is important in the Bahá’í religion so it’s not surprising the building looks symmetrical from any angle, even the air. In total, there are 27 free-standing marble clad ‘petals’ arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. Each side is surrounded by nine pools of water, which help to keep the temple cool.

The land was actually bought in 1953 after a Bahá’í businessman in Hyderabad discovered funds were needed for a temple plot and immediately withdrew his entire life savings ($20,000 - the equivalent of about £125,000 today) to pay for it.

The Torre Agbar or ‘Agbar Tower’ is a 38-storey skyscraper in Barcelona, Spain, which cost £110 million to build in 2005.

It is 144 metres high and provides 323,000 square feet of office space.

According to the architect, Jean Nouvel, it was inspired by a mountain near Barcelona called Montserrat and by the shape of a geyser rising into the air.

However, he admitted in an interview that it has a ‘phallic character’ and in Spain the building has number of scatalogical nicknames. It is also known as ‘el supositori’ - ‘the suppository’.

How about you? What do you think it looks like?

This 65 foot-high building, known as Lucy the elephant, was built in New Jersey in 1881 for between $25,000 and $38,000.

It is 60 feet long and 18 feet high and is covered in tin.

Lucy was originally built as a marketing ploy to sell real estate by a businessman who, believe it or not, applied for (and was granted) a patent in 1881 to make, sell or use animal-shaped buildings in the USA for 17 years.

Now a tourist attraction, you can go on a guided tour of the building through the spiral staircase in the left rear leg out to the carriage on top to look at the view out to the Atlantic Ocean.

This sheepish building was designed and built by a Kiwi school teacher called John Drake for just £62,000 in 1994. It is made of corrugated iron and is now a clothes shop selling ‘wild’ outdoor clothes in Tirau on the North Island of New Zealand.

To get planning permission from the council, instead of detailed drawings John simply originally submitted a corrugated paper models of how the sheep and dog would look.

His son-in-law Steven Clothier, who built the dog, is currently working on a second major sculpture in the form of a huge ram’s head to go next to the sheep head.

Who knows? Maybe a baby lamb will be next.

Last but not least, the National Fisheries Development Board in India built this fish-shaped building as its headquarters at a cost of £2.35 million last year.

You enter the building through an entrance beneath the fish’s left pectoral fin. At night, bluish-purple spotlights make the fish look like it’s going for a swim.

What do you make of it?

Which is your favourite building overall? Is there one you particularly love or hate? Let us know your thoughts using the comments box below!



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