Holyrood is the the Scottish Parliament building that sits within the UNESCO World Heritage site in central Edinburgh. The construction of the building began in 1998 and was completed in 2004 and it is quite simply the most important public building constructed in Scotland for over 300 years. It was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 2004 although the building came into use by the Scottish Parliament in June that year. Built at a total cost of £414 million, Holyrood was designed by Enric Miralles from Catalonia, Spain. Unfortunately, he died before he was able to see the building completed.
The building of Holyrood was the subject of much debate and controversy. There were criticisms by the media, politicians and the general public over several issues. This included the choice of its location, the use of a Spanish rather than Scottish architect, the design itself and the length of time it took to construct. This last criticism was perhaps the most noteworthy as Holyrood was due to open in 2001 but actually wasn’t ready until 2004 at a cost 10 times the initial estimations (initial estimates were a cost of £40 million, the actual cost was over £400 million).
However, the building won several awards and commendations despite having mixed critical and public reaction. One of its main award was the 2005 Stirling Prize, awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects for excellence in British architecture.
As part of his overall design, Enric Miralles decided to use granite to emphasise Holyrood’s link and relationship with the broader Scottish landscape as well as its sparkly effect when wet. 14,000 tonnes of granite were quarried from Kemnay Quarry in Aberdeenshire that was to be used for the grey rainscreen covering and 2000 tonnes of Black Belfast granite were imported from South Africa to form the mosaic of feature panels.
The profile of these panels have a very distinctive shape and this is reputed to have its origins in the outline of the Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, immortalised in the painting known as The Skating Minister by Sir Henry Raeburn that hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. These panels called for increasingly complex and innovative fixing solutions as the variety of different surfaces posed several technical challenges. However, these were overcome and a total of 128 feature panels and 26 smaller ones were eventually installed. On the Canongate, the boundary wall features stones from around Scotland, mant containing fossils and others inscribed with Scottish proverbs and quotations for passers by to read and enjoy.
Despite the initial problems and controversies, the Holyrood building is an integral piece of Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s architectural history and is the most important public building in Scotland. Standing on the site of the old headquarters of the Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, this purpose built parliamentary building houses 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament as well as in excess of 1000 civil servants working in support roles.
Did you know that Morningside Masonry are one of the leading stonemasons around? If you need some stone work restoring, get in touch with us today on 0131 447 0003. We also provide lime pointing, Church stone repairs, chimney repairs and wall repairs.