Bowen House is a modern, 22-storey office building on the corner of Lambton Quay and Bowen Street in Wellington. It was the temporary home of Parliament from 1991 to 1996 while Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library were refurbished. Today it provides office space for many members of Parliament and parliamentary support staff.
History of the Bowen House site
Before construction work for the new building started, a detailed archaeological investigation took place at the Bowen House site. The archaeologists uncovered many relics of the past including a brick-lined cellar and well dating from when a hotel stood on the site in the 1840s.
Construction finally began in 1988, to build an office tower to a design by architects, Warren and Mahoney. The work was completed in1990. The new office tower, together with the lower two floors of No. 3 The Terrace next door, incorporated many features specifically designed to make them suitable as a temporary home for Parliament including:
- a walkway under Bowen Street to connect Bowen House to the Beehive
- a temporary debating chamber at No. 3 The Terrace.
Parliament leased Bowen House from early 1991. Together with No. 3 The Terrace it provided a temporary home for Parliament until early 1996, while the Parliamentary Library and Parliament House were refurbished.
The office space in Bowen House proved so indispensable that Parliament has continued to lease them to the present day.
The temporary chamber
The temporary debating chamber at No. 3 The Terrace was designed by Structon Group and built by Fletcher Development and Construction Ltd. Its layout replicated the layout of the Chamber in Parliament House. The temporary chamber was decorated in the traditional shade of green, but with modern furniture.
The first meeting of Parliament in the temporary chamber was in January 1991 when Parliament was recalled unexpectedly for an emergency debate on the Gulf war.
Refurbishment of Bowen House and No. 1 The Terrace (formerly No. 3 The Terrace)
The temporary debating chamber in No.1 The Terrace is being refitted during 2006. When the work is finished the space will provide:
- two large select committee rooms that can be joined to create a single large space by withdrawing the wall between them
- glassed-in viewing galleries where the public can watch and listen to select committees at work in the select committee rooms
- function areas for both formal and informal gatherings
- conference and meeting rooms
- large waiting areas and new restrooms.
The current refurbishment will also provide new security screening equipment in the Bowen House entrance foyer.