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Reid's Short-lived ventilation system for the Permanent House of Commons

Schoenefeldt, Henrik (2015) Reid's Short-lived ventilation system for the Permanent House of Commons. In: Campbell, J. and Andrews, W. and Boyington, A. and Byng, G. and DeDonato, A. and Draper, K., eds. Studies in the History of Construction: The Proceedings of the Second Conference of the Construction History Society. Construction History Society, Cambridge, UK, pp. 167-180. ISBN 978-0-9928751-1-4. (KAR id:47758)

Language: English

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The Scottish physician David Boswell Reid was responsible for developing the ventilation of the British Houses of Parliament over a period of 17 years. Following the testing of his concept for a stack-driven ventilation system in a model debating chamber erected in Edinburgh and the two debating chambers of the Temporary Houses of Parliament  in Westminster, he had developed a master plan for the ventilation of the whole Palace. This master plan was abandoned in 1846 but Reid was able to implemented his original concept within the  Permanent House of Commons. His design for Permanent House had only been in use from February 1852 till Spring 1854, after which it was superseded by a different system by the physician and engineer Goldsworthy Gurney.  Previous studies on the history of the Palace, such as Cooke (1987), Riding(2000) Collins (1998), Port(1976) and Hitchcock(1955),  have provided a general overview of the development of the ventilation system, but do not explore Reid's design and the underlying design objectives in any detail, let alone how it was influenced by findings of his earlier experiments. Archival research undertaken by the author has revealed that the system implemented by Reid in the Permanent Houses of Commons was different from those tested earlier in Temporary Houses of Commons (1836-51) and Lords (1838-47) or the new system with which it was replace in 1854. It comprised a more sophisticated system, which was developed to overcome the limitations of the simpler stack systems tested in the Temporary Houses of Parliament. It was designed, among others, to respond more effectively to varying attendance levels or changes in the weather and to improve user- satisfaction through personalised climatic control at bench level. This is the first study to reconstruct the design and analyse the performance of Reid's original ventilation system in the Permanent House of Commons. Historian of environmental design, including  Hawkes (2012), Bruceman (1977), Bruegmann (1978), Sturrock (2006), have not given specific attention to Reid's design for the Permanent House. Rather they have focused primarily on the general principles.

The  first part of this paper comprises a detailed reconstruction of the original system based on original  archival material, which included developmental  sketches, architectural drawings, correspondence and oral accounts. Orthographic drawings and three-dimensional visualizations were produced to illustrate the historic system. This is followed by a study of the control and monitoring procedures used in the day-to-day management of the ventilation, with a particular focus on the integration of measurements, observation and user-feedback into a formal environmental monitoring strategy. The performance of the system was analysed using original measured data and observational notes in the attendants original log-books, eyewitness accounts and reports on various scientific experiments conducted inside the chamber. Measurements of the  air temperature inside the debating chamber were systematically recorded between 1852 and 1854. These sources yielded critical insights into the how the system had performed under a wide range of conditions and illustrate the various measures taken to optimise its performance from the point of thermal comfort and air quality. The post-occupancy history illuminates that the system was largely abandoned largely due to difficulties with manually implementing the complex control and monitoring procedures

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Ventilation, Houses of Commons, sustainability
Subjects: N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Depositing User: Henrik Schoenefeldt
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2015 19:57 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Schoenefeldt, Henrik:
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