AD Classics: The Scottish Parliament / Enric Miralles

  • Architects

  • Location

    Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Architect

    Enric Miralles
  • References

    Caroline McCracken-Flesher, Charles Jencks
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

    Dave Morris, Andrew Gainer

AD Classics: The Scottish Parliament / Enric Miralles AD Classics: The Scottish Parliament / Enric Miralles AD Classics: The Scottish Parliament / Enric Miralles AD Classics: The Scottish Parliament / Enric Miralles +16

From the architect. Widely known for it's extreme cost of construction, the Scottish Parliament is a remarkable example of incorporating architecture into it's surroundings.

“The Parliament sits in the land. We have the feeling that the building should be land, built out of land. To carve in the land the form of gathering people together... Scotland is a land… The land itself will be a material, a physical building material…”

Officially projected to cost around $750 million dollars, this required each Scottish adult to contribute nearly $6 million to accommodate all 129 members of the Parliament. 

© Andrew Gainer
© Andrew Gainer

This is what set Enric Miralles' design apart from his other competitors; the nature of his design and the cooperation needed from those impacted most by the space emphasized its democratic nature more than the others.

60 percent of the urban site is covered in vegetation, which is but one of the democratic references made throughout the building's design. The "assembly area" marked by grassy banks and open to the public reveal these democratic intentions, as do the dark inglenooks found in every MSP's office.

Narrow, swinged corridors and staircases were included to encourage casual interactions and to increase the circulation and steady flow of the layout in the debating chaber.

The abstract nature of the forms found on the building are consistently stressed by the tour guides to be in the shape of "whatever you want them to be."

One of the more ubiquitous and characteristic shapes is featured on the facade to shade the windows; the freedom of deciphering what these symbols are or mean express an exercise in democracy.

© Dave Morris
© Dave Morris

By the public entrance, saltire crosses sit embedded in the concrete vaults. The stepped gables along the Royal Mile are turned upside-down, and grey granite was found in a Scottish quary and used in the building. 

The complex construction of the roof of the debating chamber is made of tensile teel wires and steel-reinforced oak beams. This space has one many major architectural awards, including the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2005.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: Megan Sveiven. "AD Classics: The Scottish Parliament / Enric Miralles" 14 Feb 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>