Houses of Parliament, Westminster; Plan of Principal Floor

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This is the Plan of Principal Floor of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, England. Other wise known as Westminster Palace, It is an example of Modern English Architecture. The architect was Sir Charles Barry. Construction lasted from 1836 to 1868. The Houses of Parliament is located on the River Thames. The scale is given in feet. “Barry’s great building, the Houses of Parliament, with which his name will always be more especially associated, comes accidentally, though not by natural development nor by his own choice, under the head of the Gothic revival. The style of Tudor Gothic was dictated to the competitors, apparently from a mistaken idea that the building ought to “harmonize” with the architecture of Henry VII.’s chapel adjacent to the site. Had Barry been left to himself, there is no doubt that the Houses of Parliament, with the same main characteristics of plan and grouping, would have been a classic type of detail, and would possibly have been still a finer building than it is; and since the choice of the Gothic style in this case was not a direct consequence of the Gothic revival movement, it may be considered separately from that. The architectural greatness of the building consists, in the first place, in the grand yet simple scheme of Barry’s plan, with the octagon hall in the centre, as the meeting-point for the public, the two chambers to north and south, and the access to the committee-rooms and other departments subordinate to the chambers. The plan in itself is a stroke of genius, and had been more or less imitated in buildings for similar purposes all over the world; the most important example, the Parliament House of Budapest, being almost a literal copy of Barry’s plan. Thus, as in all great architecture, the plan is the basis of the whole scheme, and upon it is built up a most picturesque and expressive grouping, arising directly out of the plan. The two towers are most happily contrasted as expressive of their differing purposes; the Victoria Tower is the symbol of the State entrance, a piece of architectural display solely for the sake of a grand effect; the Clock Tower is a utilitarian structure, a lofty stalk to carry a great clock high in the air; the two are differentiated accordingly, and the placing of them at opposite ends of the structure has the fortunate effect of indicating, from a distance, the extent of the plan. The graceful spire in the centre offers an effective contrast to the masses of the two towers, while forming the outward architectural expression of the octagonal hall, which is, as it were, the keystone of the plan.”


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