5 July 2007
An overview of the Scottish Parliament buildings. The parliament was designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles, and was supposed to open in 2001 with a budget of £40 million. It finally opened in 2004 at an estimated cost of over £400 million, due to a succession of design changes, re-specification, and increased security measures. Miralles died before completion of the building.
The building was highly controversial because of the cost, its location and the choice of an architect who wasn't British, and it seemed it would become an embarrassment for the newly-created Scottish executive. An inquiry was held into its construction, which criticised the management of the project. However, since its completion, the building has been widely acclaimed by architectural critics.
The main entrance is on the right of the picture. The debating chamber is just behind this. To the left are the Tower Buildings which contain administrative offices and committee rooms. The unusual L-shaped motifs around many of the windows are said to represent curtains pulled back, but Miralles always intended them to hold a certain ambiguity. In the centre of the complex is the Queensberry House, a 17th century Grade A listed building that was incorporated into the new parliament, and now contains the office of the presiding officer and the Donald Dewar reading room (named after the First Minister who died in 2000). To the left is the MSP building with its contemplation spaces.
The building in the foreground with a canopy roof is not part of the parliament, but is an exhibition called Our Dynamic Earth.
Calton Hill can be seen in the background, with Nelson's Monument and the National Monument on the skyline. Below these is the former Royal High School building – this site was long considered a prime location for the Scottish Parliament and, in 1979, a debating chamber was constructed in anticipation of the result of a referendum on devolution. In the event, the referendum failed to gain the support necessary, and the chamber was never used. In 1998, the Holyrood site was chosen instead as the site for the new parliament building. There are now plans to convert the Royal High School building into a Scottish National Photography Centre.