Constructed Worlds Wiki
Advertisement

The Georgeand Houses of Parliament are the meeting place for the Parliament of Georgeland. The Houses of Parliament are formally known as The Whitney Building in honour of its lead designer, Charles Whitney. They are located on Parliament Street in Topstad , surrounded by the Parliamentary Gardens.  Opened in 1911, the Houses of Parliament have been expanded and renovated several times, most recently in 1985 but with substantial work done in 2014.  The Whitney Building contains the chambers of the House of Commons and Senate, the offices of many (but not all) Members and Senators, a number of meeting or committee rooms, and the Library of Parliament. Since 2010, the adjacent Sir Robert Pearce Annex (Pearce Building) has contained the majority of MPs and Senators' offices, as well as additional meeting space. 


History[]

The establishment of a national parliamentary building was an order of business for the first Georgeland parliament, elected in 1891. Parliament temporarily sat in the Mainland Parliament House in Santa Christina, from 1891, but the establishment of a permanent home and capital dominated federal political discourse for many years.

Design work[]

Even before Topstad had been chosen as the new national capital, preliminary designs for a new parliament were underway. In 1897, the Department of Home Affairs engaged Eugène-Étienne Taché, a French-Canadian architect who had designed the Parliament building in Quebec City, to do preliminary drawings. Taché based his designs on the Quebec building, though later work significantly altered it. When the national government changed in 1903, Taché was dismissed and the main design work given to Briton Charles Whitney. Whitney retained some of Étienne Taché's features, but made major alterations to the exterior and completely altered the interior layout. Whitney's design had the Commons and Senate chambers mirroring one another, while the original Taché design had them on different floors. 

Construction[]

The Minister for Home Affairs, Richard Breville , laid the building's foundation stone on June 24, 1909. Construction began in earnest on July 3, and continued over most of the next two years. The lead engineer for the building's construction was Sir Samuel Maher, who also lead the construction of the National War Museum in the 1920s. The centre block of the building, excluding the clock tower, was completed first, followed by the library wing at the complex's rear (east), the Senate wing, and the Commons wing. Construction on the clock tower began on 2 May 1910; due to a delay caused by a major strike in August and a shortage of materials, the tower was not completed until after World War I (see below). The half-completed tower was topped with a temporary structure to keep the interior dry; the capstone, which had been quarried and shaped in Australia, was displayed in the Great Hall until its installation.  

Opening and early period[]

On 15 April 1911, the building was opened by HRH the Princess Royal  and dedicated to her brother, King George V. Much of Topstad's infrastructure was yet to be completed, and many guests, which included foreign dignitaries, nobility, and the British Secretary of State for the Colonies , Joseph Chamberlain , were forced to stay in tents or hastily-erected cabins. The weather on the opening day was inclement, with a thunderstorm taking place only hours before. In a well-publicised incident, just before she was to make her opening speech, the Princess noticed a hole in the roof of the dais on which she was speaking, with rain leaking through, and Prime Minister Nicholas Turner held an umbrella over her head as she spoke.  The opening ceremony was captured on (silent) film by William Gabb, and was extensively photographed, with both Gabb and his rival John Gould taking photographs, collections of which are now both held in the National Archives. A painting of the event by Henry Gilbert-King has been on permanent display in the Great Hall since 1950.  After the opening, parliament did not reconvene until the 1911 election had taken place. The Turner government lost office at that election, to Labour under Eric Donaldson. While Donaldson is often cited as the first Prime Minister to sit in Whitney Building, in fact Turner did sit in the brief ceremonial opening session on 15 April, but passed no legislation and did not speak except to move the adjournment. Turner never worked permanently in the building as prime minister. The opening of parliament was performed by the Governor-GeneralBaron Grimm, representing the King.  During the First World War the building's business as usual carried on, but due to the war and the shortage of metal and other construction material, the bell tower remained unfinished. It was ultimately completed in 1923. In 1929, Georgeland became a republic. With the replacement of the monarchy with an elected President , much of the royal and British heraldry and emblems across the parliamentary precinct were gradually removed. This included the large British coat-of-arms on the floor of the Great Hall, similar adornments in the lobbies (corridors), and the large statue of George V that once occupied the Great Hall. The plinth on which the statue stood remained. Victor Martin, the first President, opened the first republican session of parliament on 5 February 1930.  In 1934-35, the House of Commons wing was extended to create more office space. Also around this time, dedicated accomodation for the press was built into the building's second floor and basement. 

World War II and after[]

Renovation work (1960s-80s)[]

Contemporary period[]

Exterior elements[]

The building is constructed in a style described as Second Empire. It is similar in design to the legislature of Quebec; this is because the designer of that building, Eugène-Étienne Taché, worked for a time on the Houses in their initial design phase.

Clock tower[]

Gardens[]

Interior elements []

The Houses of Parliament contain 784 rooms, some of which are small and cramped. There have been several expansions to the building over the years. By 2010, renovations to the nearby Pearce Building will be complete, and the offices of many Members of Parliament and Senators will transfer to the new building.
The building's design is symmetrical, with the northern side of the building devoted to the House of Commons and the southern side to the Senate. MPs and Senators each have an office on the appropriate side - the Prime Minister's office, however, is located in the centre, towards the back of the building. The PM's office is a new addition to the building; it was added during extensive refurbishments in 1985. Previously, the Prime Minister used a smaller office in the northern wing, now occupied by the Chief Whip.

Great Hall[]

The public hub of the Houses of Parliament is the Great Hall, which was called King George Hall until 1932. The Great Hall is accessible to the public and is the only area, apart from the foyer and viewing galleries, that ordinary members of the public, and tourists, may visit unaccompanied. From 1910 until 1930, a statue of King George V dominated the Great Hall. It has since been removed, and the empty plinth now stands in the hall, the inscription still in place. The rear wall of the room is covered by a large tapestry. The Great Hall contains the official portraits of Georgeland's Prime Ministers; the two most-recent prime ministers, Deborah Robards and Clare Price, are not yet represented, and due to space limitations not all former prime ministers are depicted at the same time, with other portraits in storage or hung elsewhere. A portrait of the incumbent president was traditionally hung in the Great Hall; this tradition was discontinued by Charlton Robards, as he was already represented with an official portrait.

House of Commons[]

The Commons chamber is coloured green, and modelled very closely on its British counterpart. Initially built to accomodate 100 members, the size of the Commons has increased several times, requiring renovations to add more seating. The last such effort was in 1985. The Commons now seats up to 360 members; there are presently only 265 MPs.
The Commons chamber has a public viewing gallery above it, accessible from the Great Hall. The gallery above the Speaker's Chair is used by members of the press corps.

Senate[]

Like its British counterpart, the House of Lords, the Senate chamber is red in colour. It has the same physical dimensions as the House of Commons, but fewer seats. Though the Senate at present numbers 80 members, the Senate chamber can seat twice that number. This has caused problems during joint sessions, always held in the Senate; these problems, however, are minor.
Like the Commons, there are viewing galleries above the Senate Chamber.

Advertisement