Monthly Archives: April 2016

Scottish Parliament – a STUNNING design!

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Forgive the “STUNNING” shout, it was simply to get your attention (it was either that or a hateful string of multiple exclamation marks!!!)

l haven’t yet got over the visit I made to the Scottish Parliament building last week. I mean the inside, not the outside (we have all seen the outside, if only in photos). The outside is amazing enough, especially when viewed from on high, from the nearby Salisbury Crags. But the inside! The debating chamber! Words (almost) fail me!

By Debating Chamber I don’t mean the bums-on-seats bit in the photo above, the place where all the arguing is done (though that bit is impressive enough with its modern electronics), I mean the roof. Because when I went into the chamber I was looking up, not down.

Perhaps I should explain. I am a writer. I am a geologist. I am also a Chartered Engineer (not a structural engineer, my maths was never good enough for me to be one of those). So perhaps, because I would not know where to begin to design and construct some of the amazing things such as the new Queensferry Crossing, the London Wheel or The Eden Project’s glasshouses  (though I could do their foundations), I marvel at the abilities of those that can.

So… look up, not down! (Something we should all do? Look at the sky, not down at our feet?)

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Click on the pictures to get bigger versions – but they still won’t give you the impressions I had from seeing the real thing. Someone (Enric Miralles? And of course his architect wife Bernadetta) designed these impressive structures. If you have any real knowledge of maths and physics then you will understand how awesome the calcs must be for a roof design such as this.

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I am embarrassed to admit that despite living 20 miles away from the building (and having lived in Edinburgh for four years before that), I have never been inside the parliament. During its construction the Scottish Government (Labour at the time) got a lot of stick for cost overruns, they were awesome (not the government, the overruns). I know that the cost overrun would not have surprised those involved in construction. The MD of a large national construction company once said to me “None of us can bid realistic prices. If we did, it would scare people so much that nothing would ever be built”. Is that interesting, or what?

If I have held your attention so far then you might be interested to know that the Scottish Parliament building cost £0.4 billion (£414,000,000). To put that in perspective, the Edinburgh trams cost over twice as much, almost £1 billion (£976,000,000).

Ho hum, said Pooh…


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