PRESS RELEASE: Crossing Swords over Portcullis House


Crossing Swords over Portcullis House 

24th November 2019

SAVE Britain's Heritage has strongly criticised the removal of original water features from the atrium of Parliament’s Portcullis House, one of the best used and most popular gathering places on the Parliamentary estate.

Parliamentary officials have stated they are not part of the original design. Hopkins Architects state categorically that they are integral to the final design:

"The water features were very definitely integral to the final design, not just for the visual amenity and acoustic background noise, but also as a critical part of the fire strategy which effectively ‘neutralised' that part of the space in terms of potential fire load etc. The fact they didn’t appear on some early concept images is irrelevant and it is a spurious argument to imply they were not part of our design and neither were they retrofitted as the letter (from Parliament) might be suggesting." (Mike Taylor, Principal, Hopkins Architects - 18th November 2019).

See here the letter from Ian Ailles, Director General, House of Commons (dated 20 November 2019) to SAVE.

SAVE and the Twentieth Century Society have called on Historic England to spotlist Portcullis House and this is now under consideration.  SAVE has also called for work to be halted and for the water features to be reinstated.

Portcullis House opened in 2001 and was designed by Sir Michael Hopkins, one of Britain’s most admired contemporary architects. We consider Portcullis House should be celebrated and listed at Grade II* for its architectural and technological innovation and clear exceptional heritage interest.

Parliamentary officials say it is “our long term objective to seek listing ourselves”.  SAVE asks "why not now"? 


Note to editors

1. For more information and images contact Ben Oakley, Conservation Officer,  SAVE Britain's Heritage at or on 020 7253 3500

2. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.