Parliament Case Study:

Westminster Hall

Westminster Hall

Secondary Chamber to the House of Commons

Juliet Taylor was asked to transform the old House of Commons Grand Committee Room into a new ‘Non-confrontational’ secondary Chamber to the House of Commons chamber by Tony Blair’s Government. To research this Juliet met with the Commons Modernisation Committee and also took a brief from a team of Australian Parliamentary officials who had flown over specially to advise on the proposed new Chamber, which already part of the Australian government system.  After receiving the brief Juliet proposed designs for an unprecedented semi-circular seating plan.  In Westminster the chambers were adversarial, and the UK Parliament had not sat in a European style ‘hemi-cycle’ since Cromwell’s time, before the new Palace of Westminster was built.  Juliet presented her proposals to the Commons Modernisation Committee with full scale mock-up plans, sketches and a mock-up of the committee tables and answered Members questions.  The new layout was debated in the main Chamber and the plan was passed by the Government, and Juliet’s plans for the layout were recorded in ‘Hansard’ the government written record, and Project given the go ahead.

Sketch proposal of the Semi-Circular non-confrontational Chamber for presentation to the Commons Modernisation Committee.

Sketch proposal of the Semi-Circular non-confrontational Chamber for presentation to the Commons Modernisation Committee.

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Juliet was appointed Project Interior Designer for implementing this scheme which is part of the £2 million refurbishment of the Grand Committee Room. Juliet controlled all the planning, design and procurement of the new semi-circular furniture, made in Shipley Yorkshire to Juliet’s designs and to a tight budget. Juliet also carried out the restoration of the Portcullis chairs, had new Pugin designed Wilton carpets woven and fitted and curtains remodeled. Juliet designed new officials podiums and desks and worked closely with Parliament TV, Audio and IT teams siting camera positions and designing sound control boxes. Juliet also provided the on-site Interior Design instruction to the Main Contractors and drew out, on site, all the final, complicated positions of the Audio and ICT floor boxes herself . The project was completed on time and to budget.

The finished Westminster Hall Chamber

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Testimonial from Sir Michael Cummins

"I have known Ms Taylor’s design and planning work within the Palace of Westminster for many years. She has consistently given excellent support to the Palace Works organisation in a wide range of undertakings. I can particularly commend her for her concept and design work on the Westminster Hall Chamber - the Secondary Chamber of the House - which was initiated in 1999.
 

Ms Taylor was responsible for the concept of the completely new chamber containing semi circular or hemi-cycle seating which the Modernisation Committee of the House chose to implement in 1999. To gain approval for the layout she compiled a presentation and created a full size “mock up” to show the all-party Committee. The layout was discussed in a full de- bate of the House and her plans were printed in Hansard - the Official Report. Once the plan was approved, Ms Taylor acted as the Project Interior Designer, in close association with the Works Directorate, to produce bespoke table designs and designs and drawings to implement all furnishing modifications in order to modify a large committee room so that a Second Chamber could be established. Throughout the project she liaised closely with the Modernisation Committee, the Serjeant at Arms, Clerks, Hansard and television and sound staff in order to ensure the required specifications for the new chamber were met. Subsequently Ms Taylor has managed various amendments to the shape and layout of the Chamber resulting from Members’ experiences and recommendations.
 

 The whole Second Chamber Project owes much to the skill and dedication of Ms Taylor and the House much appreciates her contribution to its success"

— Sir Michael Cummins,  Serjeant at Arms of The House of Commons 2000-04