Concept designs for Parliament's new building
In around two months, a proposal will be put on the Cabinet table outlining the options for Parliament's future.
The $6m per year lease on Bowen House on Lambton Quay will expire in 2018, and a decision needs to be made on whether to renew the lease, or find somewhere else to accommodate MPs, staff, and other officials.
Currently, Bowen House has offices for the Green Party, New Zealand First, the Māori Party, ministers outside Cabinet, ACT, United Future, car parking, two select committee rooms, Parliamentary Service offices, and other administration offices.
The 24-storey building is actually too big and there are a number of floors that are empty.
Talking to Parliament's Speaker David Carter, there are three main options being considered:
Renew the lease on Bowen House. It's owned by a foreigner and will cost the taxpayer $6m per year in rent alone.
Move the offices to the old Ministry for Social Development HQ, otherwise known as the Bowen State Building. It's currently being renovated and it's next to Parliament, but the space is much bigger than what is required. It would also require an annual lease because it too, is privately owned.
Build two entirely new buildings on spare land at the rear of the precinct. One would be behind Parliament House and the other behind the Executive Wing. (pictured below). A new build will require the demolition of the press gallery on Museum St because it's currently a quake hazard.
Mr Carter's preference is for the new buildings because it means Parliament will actually own them instead of paying rent, and they can be built fit for purpose.
Ironically, Bowen House and the Bowen State Building used to be owned by the taxpayer, until the previous National government sold them off.
Officials putting together the proposals won't release any concept designs for the possible extension of Parliament, but here are some ideas proposed to Newshub by Parliamentary staff and its own journalists.
1. The Rugby Ball
New Zealand's obsession with rugby could be immortalised at Parliament. It would fit into the round-building theme created by the Beehive, although I doubt anyone would be keen for it given the ongoing impracticalities of circular offices. They could even get Richie McCaw to open it. Or even more cringe-worthy, name it after him.
2. The Glass of Milk
Why not celebrate being the world's biggest dairy producer? It would also remind politicians of the environmental sacrifices New Zealand has made to allow for the dairy industry. You could have a dirty river water feature outside. Also, cue the jokes of whether the glass is half full or half empty.
3. The Kiwifruit
A great way to remind China that we stole one of its fruits, renamed it, and are now selling it back to them in great volumes and high prices! Weta Workshop could create the exterior of this building so it's like the real thing. Inside would be anything but though - far less palatable, not as green, but probably gritty and fruity.
3. The Wave
This is a Korean library building plonked out the back of Parliament. It's a good looking building, and certainly more practical than the other designs. Kind of looks like a wave or a swell, but would probably be the butt of jokes about politicians bending or buckling.
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