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Scottish Parliament opening Monday, 28 June, 1999, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
The rocky road to Holyrood
Holyrood digger
The Holyrood site is being cleared
Controversy has raged around plans to build the Scottish Parliament's permanent home at Holyrood.

With concerns increasing about the 109m cost of the project, a 10-day freeze was placed on the issue of new contracts.

But, when it came to a vote on 17 June, MSPs decided the new building should ultimately take shape.

The Holyrood parliament has been designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles.

Miralles set up his practice in Barcelona in 1984 and has won many architectural prizes and competitions throughout Europe including the Madrid City prize in 1993, the National Prize of Spanish Architecture in 1995 and the Golden Lion at the Biennial of Venice in 1996.

Other recent designs include the Olympic Archery Pavilions in Barcelona and the new town hall in Utrecht, Holland.

International entries

He was chosen from a process which began in January 1998 with the launch of a designer competition in the international architectural press. This attracted 70 entries from practices around the world and from this, a short-list of 12 was drawn up.

Five were then asked to submit initial designs, resulting in Miralles, who had teamed up with architects RMJM (Scotland) Ltd (Edinburgh), being picked as the winner.

Enric Miralles and Donald Dewar
Enric Miralles shows Donald Dewar his plans
Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar said: "What Enric and his wife Benedetta have produced is not a single monolithic building that over-emphasises the importance of the parliament but a group of buildings that grows out of the site and complements both the city and landscape of the park.

"The new parliament building will become a tangible symbol of this new democratic adventure."

The Church of Scotland's General Assembly building on the Mound in Edinburgh was chosen as a temporary home for the parliament.

Among the other locations considered was the old Edinburgh High School, where the parliament would have sat had devolution gone ahead in 1979.

Sites at Haymarket and in Leith were looked at but were also rejected. So too was the option of converting St Andrew's House, which is home to the Scottish Office, at a cost of about 65m.

Historic area

The four-acre Holyrood site is on Edinburgh's Royal Mile next to the Palace of Holyrood House and Holyrood Park. It is bounded by Horse Wynd, Holyrood Road and Reid's Close.

The area is steeped in history. The Royal Mile has been a royal route since 1128, when David I founded the Abbey of Holyrood. The abbey has been a royal residence at least from the reign of Robert the Bruce, who held a Parliament there in 1326, and the Scottish Parliament met in Parliament House in the Royal Mile (now part of the High Courts) from 1640 to 1707.

Traffic management was one of the most important factors in the site being chosen. There are plans to pedestrianise Canongate along with entire length of the Parliament site.

The chamber is at the centre of the building
Enric Miralles' concept will see the integration of modern designs with some of the historic parts of the old Canongate. Traditionalists may dislike the mix but it found support when models of the design went on public display last October.

Sebastian Tombs, from the Royal Incorporation of Architects, said: "There's been rather too much preservation in respect of the approach and I hope this building and the complex will start a new line of thinking amongst the public."

Some MSPs have complained about the shape of the debating chamber, which has been described as "coffin-shaped" by more than one critic.

The final design was launched by Mr Dewar on 11 April. The most significant difference since the plan last October is the design of the approaches to the public entrance from Salisbury Crags, Holyrood Park and Horse Wynd.

The roof of this public area will be a vaulted ceiling formed by the floor of the parliament chamber above.

Building materials will include reconstructed stone panels, using crushed aggregate of the original stone from old buildings on the site.

The Scottish Office presents the new home for the Scottish Parliament
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