History of Innovation

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1840: Temporary House of Commons – London, England

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Image Sources: [1] [2]

Innovation: First use of natural displacement ventilation system in England.
Location: Temporary House of Commons, London, England
Year: 1840
Ventilation System by:  David Boswell Reid

The House of Parliament and House of Commons, together known as the Palace of Westminster, were destroyed by a fire in 1834.  A Temporary House of Commons was built while the new Palace was in design and construction.

Reid was appointed to design the ventilation system of the Temporary House of Commons.  “In the system employed in the Temporary House, which was actually in use for some fifteen years, air was drawn in from New Palace Yard (although Reid’s original design involved the use of a high turret), whence it passed into a basement plenum chamber, where it was heated or cooled. The air then passed through numerous apertures in the floor, upwards through the Chamber and eventually into a false ceiling connected to a downcast shaft. The vitiated air then became the combustion air for a furnace at the base of a chimney 120 ft (36 m) high (fig.3). This was probably the first instance of what we would now call ‘displacement ventilation’.”[2]
Articles related to this topic describe this system without mentioning the use of forced air.  It is assumed that the system operated using natural breezes and displacement of air caused by changes in temperature along the path from air intake to exhaust [GB].

Reid was commissioned to design the ventilation system in the new, permanent Palace, but due to conflicts with the architect of the project, the ventilation system was not as successful as that of the Temporary House. `

Sources: [1] [2]
Edited by GB 9/2013

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Written by Paul Acevedo

October 8, 1840 at 4:49 pm

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