Without a doubt, as an architect and permanent tourist of London, The Houses of Parliament are to me , together with St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Women in Manual Trades 40th anniversary, which took place in one of the rooms that are not open to the public on viewing days, but other than a brisk walk through its corridors, i had very little chance to enjoy the beautifully laid and decorated spaces.
Yesterday though, we were lucky enough to be joined by two friends for an audio tour (tickets here) and could visit it without any rush. This is a visit that I certainly would recommend to anyone coming to London.
The building is as beautiful inside as it is outside and visiting it is a humbling experience.
Its is not only the fact that the architecture of the place is the result of both the vision and craft of incredible individuals, but also the realisation that this is a place that has endured historical events that put many things into perspective.
It is a building full of stories and rituals in striking contrast with contemporary London living. I can therefore imagine that the idea of going to work to such a place must be both intimidating and exciting in equal measure.
In a funny sort of way (probably because of the widely applied symbolical decorations ) the architecture feels close to that of a cathedral, and many of the tricks you expect to see in such buildings are also used here.
This, together with the lack of female (aside the ornamental and Thatcher’s) and ethnic representation in the sculptures and painting that decorate the many rooms, made me wonder whether a building can affect the proceedings that take place within.
A lot of the work I do at NAWIC is focused in normalising the presence of female in the construction industry. Not only because there is a serious shortage of female in the industry but also because in not giving visibility to those who are already working in it, we would be signalling to others that there is no place for them in our industry.
It also made me wonder wether, without destroying history as previous generations have tended to do, there could be a way for the building to feel more reflective of the world we live in. After all, if a group is planning to successfully serve the majority, the group should proportionally reflect the diversity of that majority in order to achieve the best results.
Photos by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Text by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
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