As I was coming down to the lower end of Royal Mile I saw this futuristic ultra-modern building. It is the Scottish Parliament that officially opened in 2004 (yes Queen Elizabeth was there) but many locals didn’t really get excited with it. The reason was that the construction cost was about £414 millions while the original plan was to be between £10 and £40m! The second reason was the shape of the building and its cutting-edge design, maybe too modern for some and maybe way unusual too, the designer (the Catalan architect Enric Miralles) wanted to create a mix of many different thing, a bit crazy that misses its target and at the end you cant really focus on something (it’s a building not a surrealistic painting after all)
The good thing is that you can go inside (passing through security of course) and even attend a committee meeting. I didn’t go inside though as it was after closing time.
Just for the record the British Parliament governed Scotland since forever but after the referendum in 1997 the Scottish Parliament can make laws nad has the power to legislate in all areas that are not explicitly reserved to Westminster.
It’s open for public Monday, Friday Saturday and public holidays from 10.00 to 17.00
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9.00 to 18.30
Firstly I apologize for the poor photos but will be adding better ones in the coming days.
The Scottish Parliament building was opened officially by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 9th October 2004. So much has been written in our members reviews regarding the building, tours, souvenir shop etc, I will just mention a few facts that you may not know.
Originally when discussions were first made regarding the construction of the building the estimated cost was 10-40 million pounds in 1997, BUT by the time it was completed in February 2007 the total expenditure was actually over 414,000,000 pounds - no, I have not made a mistake with the number of zeroes ! That is roughly eighty pounds for each inhabitant of the country.
The building is meant to be shaped like trees and bottomless boats, but hard to notice !
Anybody can enter the buildings to watch the meetings.
There is a computed system that records the temperature and opens/closes windows automatically.
On 12th May 1999, after a wait of 292 years, Scotland once again had its own Parliament, but it took another 5 years for the brand spanking new Parliament Building to be officially opened.
From start to finish the building was controversial and its location and design were immediately criticised. It was due to be completed in 2001 at a cost of between £10m-£40m but overshot both by a considerable margin and was eventually opened in 2004 at a cost of around £414m.
The designer, Enric Miralles, died in 2000 at the age of 45 and never got to see the finished article, which was a shame because he put a lot of thought into the design. His concept was a brave one. His plan was to incorporate a group of modern buildings in a traditional setting in a way that only an artist’s mind can work out. The problem is of course, that not everyone can see what he was trying to achieve.
From a personal point of view, even though I don’t fully understand what was going on in his head, I do actually like the building. There are some aspects of it that I don’t like but overall I think he made a pretty good fist of it. Whether it stands the test of time is a problem that most modern structures face, and only time will tell.
One thing about this modern approach is that it’s not an intimidating place to walk into and the Main Hall has a welcoming feel to it. It’s free to go in and if you want to go and sit in on a committee meeting you’ll be given a ticket that will get you past security.
These meetings may not be something that would be on the top of your list of things to do, but it’s still interesting to see democracy in action.
The thing most people probably want to see is the Debating Chamber which is all pretty high tech and quite a breath of fresh air. In fact the more I wandered around the building, the more I got to like it.
Even though the building came in in for a lot of early criticism, I’ve a feeling that as time passes by it may just find a heart in the Scottish people. Let’s hope so. They waited long enough for it.
I like bad architecture. I like buildings others would rather have torn down, like the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw and the Tour Montparnasse in Paris. I like crazy architecture too. I love everything Frank Gehry and the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna. But the Scottish Parliament Building is for me ugly. It's a mess of ideas. I have no idea what it is trying to be. Bamboo jungle fences, cookie cutter Venetian blinds and crazy paving concrete panels. It's a bit of Spanish Dali, a bit Russian Social Realism, but despite the fact that it was designed to reflect Scotland, I see little that is Scottish.
But whether you like the building or not it's of great importance to British history - more than just a symbol of growing Scottish independence, it is the embodiment of the people's will in this country. It also has a setting like no other parliament building I have seen, one that is as dramatic as Scottish political history. The backdrop of Arthur's seat makes up for many missteps in the design of the building itself.
In 2004, after a gap of 297 years during which the British Parliament governed Scotland, Scotland had once again its own parliament. It is now housed at the foot of the Royal Mile close to the Queen's official residence in Scotland, the Palace of Holyrood.
Strangely a Catalan architect, Enric Miralles, designed the building - he died before its completion. He aimed to produce a poetic union between the Scottish landscape, its people, its culture and the city of Edinburgh. This approach won the parliament building many awards and the description "a tour de force of arts and crafts and quality without parallel in the last 100 years of British architecture".
The result is a collection of low-lying buildings intended to blend in with the surrounding rugged scenery and existing buildings. They have many features connected to nature and land, such as the leaf shaped motifs of the roof in the Garden Lobby of the building. The most distinctive characterisation is the roof of the Tower Buildings - reminiscent of upturned boats on the shoreline. Inside the buildings the use of Scottish rock such as gneiss and granite in the flooring and walls and oak and sycamore in the furniture reinforces the connection to the land.
The debating chamber contains an elliptical horseshoe of seating for the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), with the governing party or parties sitting in the middle of the semicircle and opposition parties on either side. The layout blurs political divisions and hopefully encourages consensus among MSPs. There are 131 desks and chairs on the floor of the chamber for the elected members and other members of the Government. The desks have a lectern, a microphone and in-built speakers as well as electronic voting equipment. Galleries above the main floor hold 255 members of the public, 18 guests and 34 members of the press.
The most notable feature of the chamber is the roof. Laminated oak beams joined with 112 stainless steel connectors suspended on steel rods support the roof. It enables the debating chamber to span over 30 metres (100 ft) without any supporting columns. In entering the chamber, MSPs pass under a stone lintel, the Arniston Stone, once part of the pre-1707 Parliament building. It symbolises the connection between the historical Parliament and the present-day Parliament. Natural light diffuses by glass fins, which run down from light spaces in the ceiling, enters the chamber.
There is a wide variety of artwork and sculptures in the Scottish Parliament ranging from commissioned pieces to official gifts from overseas parliamentary delegations. The Main Hall of the Parliament contains a sculpture modelled on the Scottish crown, sceptre and the sword of the state. The parliamentary mace of silver and inlaid with gold panned from Scottish rivers is displayed in a glass case in the debating chamber. It has a formal, ceremonial role during meetings of the Parliament.
Despite its many awards many Scots consider the building a shambles – visit and decide!
Also at the lower end of the Royal Mile there are several quite controversial buildings which have recently been built to house the Scottish Parliament.
This is the new parliament that was created under the Scotland Act of 1998. It is the first parliament Scotland has had since its union with England in 1707.
Opposite the Place is the Scottish Parliament, Modern and having an interest in Geo Politics, the fact that during the past few days, Scottish Parliament has been in the news , means that the memories of my visit to reawakened
The new Parliament building was open for public viewing for a meeting regarding educational reform so I sat in the gallery and watched things happen for about an hour.
Nice building and it's always fun to get to watch people discuss laws
The Scottish Parliament came into being after a referendum in September 1997 but it wasn't until 2004 that the new parliament building finally opened, just across the road from the Holyrood Palace, which is now a museum.
The building has proved to be rather controversial. Construction ran over by 3 years and nearly 400 million pounds over budget.
While it won many architectural awards it would be hard to say the building is universally popular among the general public. Myself while I'm a lover of modern architecture this place is one of my least favourite public buildings.
One hour tours of the Scottish Parliament building cost 6 pounds and are best booked in advance. Details on their website.
I've not been inside the Scottish Parliament building so I can't offer an opinion about a visit -- it was opened by Queen Elizabeth 11 in 2004 -- initial cost estimates in 1997 were between 10 and 40 million GBP -- the final cost was over 400 million GBP. Sadly its architect, Enric Miralles from Catalonia, died in 2000 aged 44 so he didnt see the opening of parliament here.
Full details at the link below :-
Lots of ill-informed people see this stunning set of buildings as a huge money pit but having read up on the finances, I can see how the totally unrealistic budget of £50m rose to over 400. The architect Enric Miralles, died during construction, the Westminster based Scottish Office were culpable of incredible mismanagement and the main contractor threw his toys out of the pram on several occasions. So the fact that it won the much coveted Stirling Prize from RIBA as well as several other prestigious international awards justifies the fractured journey towards completion (it was over 3 years late too).
As for me, well I didn't get round to visiting the place until May 07 and this was partly spurred on by the fact I'd agreed a sale on my Edinburgh flat earlier that day. As it happens, it was a great place to rest and chill out between trekking up Calton Hill and Arthurs Seat. There is a security check point at the entrance that is similar to an airport. Once inside there is limited access to the shop, displays and the debating chamber although the guided tours do offer greater access.
We left being highly impressed by what we were able to see but think it will stand the test of time. As an aside, I instantly recognised the style of Miralles when I was in Barcelona recently when we passed the Santa Caterina market hall.
All I can say is that take a look and forget the skewed criticism to make up your mind for yourself.
The Scottish Parliament looks really good although probably not worth the millions spend on it. Anyway, there is a nice green area with some ponds in front of it which is great for relaxing on a hot day. It is possible to go on a guided tour of the parliament building.