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COMMENT - The Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Monday 17 Aug 2009

The Scottish Parliament, in practice

Image © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body - 2009 
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Kirsty Boyle talks to WAN about the realities of working in a parliament, whose design has seen both protest and celebration in equal measure 

The following article contains personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of either MSP or the SNP.

The Scottish Parliament. Infamous for its ever rising cost, which pinnacled at £431 million, and for the 'chamber beam incident' of 2006 where an oak beam came loose from the ceiling of the Parliament's debating chamber. But despite it's failings, time has told that there is much more to the building than over-blown budgets and dubious woodwork.

Designed by late Catalan architect, Enric Miralles, construction of the building by EMBT/RMJM (Scotland) Ltd, a Spanish-Scottish collaboration specifically created for the project, began in 1999. The choice of architect, location, design and construction company were not without their detractors and Parliament management were severely criticised during the Fraser Inquiry into the handling of the project. Winning the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2005 forced many people to view the building in a new light and appreciate its craftsmanship. Although the announcement that RMJM have been contracted to complete the 2014 Commonwealth Games village in Glasgow raised a few eyebrows.

Legend has it in the first design meeting, Miralles, threw some twigs and leaves onto a table and declared; "This is the Scottish Parliament”. Whether true or not it is a conceivable notion given the abstract nature of the Parliament.

Often referred to as just Holyrood, the Parliament complex is made up of several distinctive and individual buildings joined together by the Garden Lobby. The MSP block, Queensberry House, the Canongate building and the Chamber are all accessed through this bright space which acts as a reception area for official events as well as an informal meeting place for all building users. The preferred location for media interviews, the Garden Lobby provides the now recognisable backdrop of the staircase seen in most media shots of the building. continued...

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