SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

The Spaniard upturned the boats,
Heaving them over with his imagination,
Manhandling them with elegant precision,
To capsize our narrow expectations,
Of function, and of form;
Then wandering through the brightness
Of his mind, probing for a place,
Between the people and the land,
He conjured this uncommon space,
Shaping it with sculpted beams
To vault the weighty Scottish sky,
And channel its inclining light
Across repeating echoes,
Across the granite and the oak,
Across the concrete and the steel,
Each surface holding his attention,
Disturbing his sleep,
Until his wakened dreams took shape,
Beyond confinement, escaping
The formality of dullness,
The chains of common sense,
To look in upon our land,
To see what we cannot,
Telling our story;
For this is more than just a building,
It is a poem for a nation,
Beyond the finite grasp of humankind,
Abstracting the geometry of thought,
It challenges us to think
Far beyond those who judge
With an accountant’s eye;
For this is a place of liberty,
Of wisdom of the mind,
So treat it with respect,
For we are all,
Including him,
But passers
By.

 

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Behind the Picture-Poem

The Scottish Parliament building is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Edinburgh. Construction of the building began in June, 1999, with Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) holding their first debate in the new building on September 7, 2004. The formal opening by Queen Elizabeth II took place on October 9, 2004. Enric Miralles, the Spanish architect who designed the building, died before its completion.
 
“We don’t want to forget that the Scottish Parliament will be in Edinburgh, but will belong to Scotland, to the Scottish land. The Parliament should be able to reflect the land it represents. The building should arise from the sloping base of Arthur’s Seat and arrive into the city almost surging out of the rock.” — Enric Miralles, 1999.
 
From the outset, the building and its construction proved controversial. The choice of location, architect, design and even construction company drew criticism from, among others, politicians, the media and the Scottish public. Scheduled to open in 2001, it finally did so in 2004 - more than three years late and with an estimated final cost of £414M (well over 10 times higher than initial estimates of between £10M-£40M).