The BBC reports that London’s 10 Downing Street “has opened its famous front door to the public after more than 270 years, with a virtual tour for web users. Visitors can look at rooms, find out historical information and click on objects such as paintings and furniture for extra details. Tony Blair told the BBC the tour was ‘an excellent way of showing the tremendous history of this building’.”
So I immediately thought of security risks: people casing the place to check for back doors, routes, cameras, blindspots. What to steal, whether it’s alarmed, where the nearest windows are. While all of that has no doubt been considered by the tour’s developers and their legion of security consultants, it would still be interesting to know how they did it, what specific steps were taken to deter possible burglars, terrorists, midnight visitors, and other unwanted guests. Were the truly expensive objects removed from display? Were surveillance cameras detached from the walls, and hidden?
Or, more architecturally, were whole internal stretches of the building somehow faked: some extra wainscoting and temporary wallpaper, all mounted on movable plasterboard, so that we, the unsuspecting public, never realize that the Prime Minister’s main study actually has two more doors… leading back to a series of rooms that aren’t in the tour at all – but that pop out and around to a dark corridor connected to the kitchen, through another door that’s been conveniently blocked with a refrigerator digitally added after the fact?
Who would know?
If it’s not uncommon for some governments to issue fake maps, or at least maps with whole cities missing – military bases left as empty mountain ranges, and so on – who’s to say a virtual tour of the ruler’s actual home would be any different?
From the BBC: “The tour’s developer, Aral Balkan, said: ‘I thought it was too interesting a project to pass up. Working on it has been very exciting and a great privilege. Downing Street is an extraordinary place and I hope to have captured a real sense of the history and importance that comes from going behind that door.'”