British Parliament, Palace of Science

white card. While the legislative elections brought the National Assembly back into the spotlight, the Bourbon Palace remains a largely unknown institution. A priori, these buildings have nothing to do with the history of science. This would be without relying on the research of Edward Gillin, a researcher at the University of Leeds, who, in an astonishing book, Victorian Science Palace (Cambridge University Press, 2017), revisits the history of the Palace of Westminster which, when rebuilt following a fire between 1834 and 1860, also served as a place for scholarly activity.

While Edward Gillen perused the archives of parliamentary debates and the minutes of the commissions responsible for architecture, what was his surprise to see the emergence of the great names of Victorian science: the royal astronomer George Biddle Airy, the experimenters Michael Faraday or David Boswell Reid were regularly invited to these meetings, while on the Chemists Charles Wheatstone and John Tyndall tested the materials used to construct the future building, and geologists to give their opinion on the selected stones. They all used the House of Commons as a laboratory, and engineers made the English Parliament one of the first electrified buildings.

Sure, we were often interested in the neo-Gothic style of architect Charles Barry, but in the end we studied very little of the scientific dimension of this creation associated with the idea of ​​modernity. Since the 1820s, science and technology have sought to foster a new society based on the physical circulation of interconnected items, be they goods, people, or information. It is thus the advent of the great technical systems of roads and electricity that promise endless modernization.

See also  Health crisis: the proportion of obese children nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021

Association for Science and Politics

In the world of science, this scientific and technical hope is reflected in the creation of large facilities with monumental architecture, such as the Natural History Museum in South Kensington or the Oxford Museum. These cathedrals of science speak well of the greatness and place of science in the second scientific revolution.

Thus, the right-wing party, liberal at the time, was carried by this connection between science and politics. One of its leaders, William Richard Hamilton, statesman and archaeologist, sees in the new Parliament a double opportunity to establish this relationship. First, according to him, architecture should be considered as a science inspired by mathematical principles and finding its origin in Greek art. Moreover, the design of the building itself must reflect the state of science at the time (astronomy, mechanics, optics, hydrostatics).

You have 29.92% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.