The Engineering Club <br>How did the Victorians deal with the hot air in the House of Commons?

View of the ventilation stacks around the Central Tower (Illustrated London News, 28 January 1860)


Speaker: Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt, Lecturer in Sustainable Architecture, University of Kent

Until the mid-1940s the Houses of Parliament was ventilated using a stack ventilation system developed over a period of twenty years after the fire of 1834. It was one of the most technically advanced systems of its time, which was the outcome of a cross-disciplinary collaboration, involving architects, engineers and scientists and was underpinned by a high level of experimental research. This talk explores the role of environmental experimentation in the design development, with a particular focus on the use of large-scale models in the empirical testing and refinement of the ventilation system. These models included the Temporary Houses of Common (1836-51) and David Reid’s experimental chambers in Edinburgh(1833-36). This is the first in-depth study of the performance of the historic systems, using measured data, attendants’ diaries, eyewitness accounts and technical reports, and how these informed the later designs for the actual Palace of Westminster.

Henrik is currently a lecturer in sustainable architecture at the University of Kent, conducting research into the ventilation of the Palace of Westminster, sustainable education and the adoption of the PassivHaus standard in the UK. He was awarded an M.Phil in Environmental Design at the University of Cambridge in the role of environmental experimentation in the development of glass structures in the nineteenth century.

Free to attend. Booking essential.

A number of places are reserved for Engineering Club members .