Published here August 2010

Note: The Issues for Discussion at the end of this case study may require research on the Internet.

Introduction | Project Evolution | Project Concept
Planning and Organization | Design Timelines | Construction | Project Cost
Project Progress Report, March 1st 2005 | Commentary | Issues for Discussion


Scotland's new Parliament sits at the foot of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile in front of the spectacular Holyrood Park and Salisbury Crags as shown in Figure 1.

The new Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood, Scotland designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles and opened in October 2004
Figure 1: The new Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood, Scotland designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles and opened in October 2004[1]

Constructed from a mixture of steel, oak, and granite, the complex building has been hailed as one of the most innovative designs in Britain today. Construction of the building commenced in June 1999 and the Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) held their first debate in the new building on Tuesday, September 7, 2004. The formal opening by Queen Elizabeth took place on October 9, 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died before its completion.[2]

From 1999 until the opening of the new building in 2004, committee rooms and the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament were housed in the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland located on The Mound in Edinburgh. Office and administrative accommodation in support of the Parliament were provided in buildings leased from the City of Edinburgh Council. The new Scottish Parliament Building brought together these different elements into one purpose built parliamentary complex, housing 129 MSPs and more than 1,000 staff and civil servants.

Comprising an area of 1.6 ha (4 acres), with a perimeter of 480 m (1570 ft), the Scottish Parliament building is located 1 km (0.6 mi) east of Edinburgh city centre on the edge of the Old Town. The large site previously housed the headquarters of the Scottish and Newcastle brewery, which were demolished to make way for the building.

From the outset, the building and its construction have proven to be highly controversial. Politicians, the media and the Scottish public criticized all the choices of location, architect, design, and construction company. Scheduled to open in 2001, it did so in 2004, more than three years late with an estimated final cost of 414m, many times higher than initial estimates of between 10m and 40m.

A major public inquiry into the handling of the construction, chaired by the former Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser, was established in 2003. The inquiry concluded in September 2004 and criticized the management of the whole project from the realization of cost increases down to the way in which major design changes were implemented.

Despite these criticisms and a mixed public reaction, architectural academics and critics welcomed the building. The building aims to conceive a poetic union between the Scottish landscape, its people, its culture and the city of Edinburgh. This approach won the parliament building numerous awards including the 2005 Stirling Prize and has been described as "a tour de force of arts and crafts and quality without parallel in the last 100 years of British architecture".[3]


1. Photo -
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
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