Scottish Parliament debating chamber

5 July 2007

The most striking feature of the debating chamber is the roof, with its oak beams joined by stainless steel connectors. The seats are arranged in a horseshoe shape, rather than the "adversarial" layout seen in the UK parliament in Westminster, to encourage consensus among members of a parliament elected by proportional representation. Each MSP has an individual desk with a microphone and connections for a laptop computer. Voting is carried out electronically. Human-shaped cut-outs in the wall, seen on the left of the picture, are designed to project the shape of people onto the MSPs' seats to give the impression that the chamber is never empty.

In 2006, one of the roof beams became detached at one end, causing evacuation of the chamber for two weeks, during which time sessions took place in the Hub. The cause was found to be a missing bolt, rather than a design fault, and the roof was soon repaired.

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