Demolishing Richmond House for a temporary Commons would be an act of philistinism

Richmond House

Short-term thinking must not be allowed to rob us of Whitfield’s gem, argues Catherine Croft

Richmond House is a complex building. Superficially it appears to occupy a small but incredibly prominent site, facing directly on to Parliament Street in the very heart of Westminster, right in line with the Lutyens’ Cenotaph. In fact there is a lot more to it than the set-back turreted entrance façade, and it has a much more extensive footprint than is apparent from the front.

It adjoins and weaves behind radically different neighbours and echoes the listed buildings behind it. It has no river frontage, but it does have very attractive internal courtyards and rear elevations. The offices are beautifully lit and the extensive leadwork of the complex roofs is rigorously detailed. It has real sculptural presence.

Because it is embedded in the block now known as the Northern Parliamentary Estate it has been largely subsumed within a high security cordon for years so all this has never been publicly accessible. Only a tiny fraction of the building is well known – and it’s not the best bit.

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