The site is located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town, opposite the Royal Palace at Holyrood, next to Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags.
Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape, the flower paintings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the upturned boats on the seashore for the roofs, Miralles developed a design that he said was a building “sitting in the land” .
Seen in plan the Parliament is growing out of the site like a huge flower with the leaves forming the different structures. Structures covered with grass will run right up to the edge of the Debating Chamber building emphasizing the impression of the Parliament “sitting in the land”. Garden paths and a series of ponds link all the buildings to the landscape around the four acre site.
The complex incorporates the Debating Chamber building, four Tower buildings containing committee rooms, briefing rooms and staff offices, the MSP building, the Cannongate buildings, a Media building and a large skylit Foyer. The Queensberry House, a 17th century “A” listed building located on the site, is being refurbished as part of the project.
The frame of the Debating Chamber Building is predominantly steel, clad in high quality pre-cast concrete panels. A double line of tall, slender steel columns, incased in concrete, rises from the basement to support the floor of the debating chamber cantilevered out high above.
The roof structure, of laminated oak beams and 111 stainless steel nodes (connecting joints), each slightly diffrent, is clearly visible from within the chamber.
The new building will house the Parliament’s Information Technology staff and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.
Miralles was only 45 when he died, just a few month after construction started in 2000. Donald Dewar who was Secretary of State for Scotland, and then First Minister in the devolved Scottish Parliament, chose the site and selected Miralles for the project that was to be the symbol of a new Scotland, also passed away in 2000.