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Buckingham Palace Reimagined as Living Space for Fifty Thousand Londoners21.01.2019

The redesign concept, released by Munich-based design firm Opposite Office, imagines the royal residence as a co-living space which the royal subjects would cohabit with Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Affordable Palace project was imagined as a tongue-in-cheek solution to London’s housing crisis—a product of the city’s nearly unchecked growth and a rapid population influx that the rate of new development was unable to keep up with. The pool of available housing, for either sale or rent, is severely limited across the entire metropolis. 

According to designers from Opposite Office, most Brits are deeply unhappy with their housing situation. But the obverse has to be true for Queen, who remains the sole tenant of the 77,000 square meter Palace. After all, to quote the studio’s official statement, “Buckingham Palace is great!” 

The palace holds 775 rooms and 79 bathrooms. “The rooms are awash with sparkling candelabra, sumptuous carpets, marble columns, sculptures, and expensive artworks. So why not use this existing structure to fight the housing crisis?”

Naturally, such a transition would require extensive remodelling, including adding at least a couple of stories to the Palace, which would then be split into communal living rooms, single and double bedrooms, and dining rooms—a sprawling co-living space. According to calculations compiled by Opposite Office, the residence sitting at Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, could comfortably house around than 50,000 people. The design studio also suggested a number of solutions, such as movable walls or a system of staircases and elevators, that would allow the Queen to visit the communal spaces and spend time with her new “housemates.”

Although the concept doesn’t exactly sound serious and could be treated as nothing more than an attention grab, it’s underpinned by a bitter reality, discussed more broadly by Benedikt Hart, the co-founder of Opposite Studio, in an open letter he sent to Queen Elizabeth II. The letter speaks of uncertainty brought on by the impending threat of Brexit, the “rent generation,” and even goes so far as to mention that the British taxpayer already underwrote extensive refurbishment of Buckingham Palace to the tune of £600,000, with even more expensive renovation expected in the future. "Why shouldn't it then be possible to transform Buckingham Palace, a symbol of royal power and wealth, into social housing?” asked Hartl in the letter, and promised to help should the royal family ever decide to make the idea a reality.

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