The Legislative Chamber
The Legislative Chamber is quite large, measuring 12 by 18 metres (40 by 60 feet), and contains enough seating for all 87 MLAs (including the
Speaker) as well as many interesting architectural details. The walls are paneled with brown Italian marble and punctuated with 22 massive columns of green marble. The columns support an ornate ceiling, trimmed with gold leaf and hosting four domed stained glass skylights.
Large iron electric lamps were hung in the Chamber in 1898. Over the decades, many were replaced by less attractive contemporary fixtures. When the Parliament Buildings were
restored in the 1970s and 1980s, replicas of the original iron light fixtures were installed. Additional lighting was also added to meet the requirements of the
Hansard Broadcasting cameras.
An intriguing feature of the Chamber is the plaster faces looking out at intervals from under the main ceiling moulding. Some sources suggest that these faces are of famous philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, whose wisdom architect
Francis M. Rattenbury hoped would influence the politicians under their watchful gaze. They are more likely thought to be anonymous representatives of the people keeping an eye on the legislators. The craftsmen who decorated the Chamber may well have arbitrarily created them in their own likeness.
DID YOU KNOW?
The wrought iron gate at the entrance to the Legislative Chamber was added in 1974 by restoration architect Alan Hodgson. It was designed to allow visitors to see inside the Chamber even when it was not in use and technically "closed." Prior to this, the large doors were shut between sittings, blocking the view of any curious onlookers.