Take a peek at Canada's forest-inspired House of Commons
Next January, federal politicians will gather in a new, glass-ceilinged House of Commons that takes its architectural cues from a clearing in the woods.
The temporary chamber in the West Block will replace the Centre Block, currently home to the House of Commons and Senate chambers. Centre Block will remain closed for an estimated 10 years to undergo major renovations.
This week, journalists were given an early look at the project. The new Commons was built in what was once an outdoor courtyard, and natural light pours through a sweeping glass ceiling, about the size of a football field.
Architect Georges Drolet explained that the towering floor-to-ceiling steel beams were designed to replicate trees, and the House where MPs will sit is meant to represent a clearing in a forest.
The beams are made from 100 per cent Canadian steel, and they serve a practical purpose to hold up the glass ceiling while also helping with earthquake protection.
Canadian birch and red oak accents give the space a modern, natural feel. Materials used in the space are a mix of restored and new materials that echo the existing building’s Neo-Gothic style.
Carol Phillips, another architect on the project, said the idea was to make the design feel rooted in the ground, while broad views of the sky overhead make the space feel “soaring.”
For those looking to visit Parliament when the new wing opens in 2019, things will be a bit different. The public viewing gallery has 346 seats, about 40 per cent fewer spots than the existing gallery. Tours won’t be running when the House is in session, but more tours will be added on evenings, weekends and break times to make up for the difference.
Construction for the new building cost $863 million. It cost another $129-million for the adjacent Visitors Centre.
It’s not clear how much the decade of renovations to Centre Block will cost. The Treasury Board has approved $4.7 billion for renovations on Parliament Hill, of which about $3 billion has already been spent.
MPs are expected to move into the West Block House of Commons at the start of the winter 2019 session, tentatively set for January 28, 2019. Senators will transition to their new abode, the Government Conference Centre, at the same time.
Construction on the new space began in 2011.
CTV's Rachel Aiello was part of the tour and got an sneak-peek of the renovations. She posted videos on Instagram and you can check out her first-hand look below.
With files from CTV’s Rachel Aiello