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a life in architecture ianrankin

Although Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin shared a flat with an architecture student when he was at university in Edinburgh, he never learned to reconcile architectural plans with buildings.

It wasn't until the hoarding started to come off Benson & Forsyth's Museum of Scotland (above) that he understood what it would look like. He thinks the exterior wonderful and enjoys the in-joke references to Edinburgh Castle - 'crenellations and window slits that you could fire arrows through if you wanted'. He spends hours getting lost in its 'very mazy interior, climbing stairs that seem to go nowhere but always lead somewhere interesting'.

The museum is one of a cluster of brave new buildings that he sees as breaking away from Edinburgh's traditionally conservative image: he has high hopes for Enric Miralles' Scottish parliament. 'When you get an interesting looking building it acts like a magnet. Perhaps visitors will even be tempted to wander inside and listen to the MPs.'

As a postscript, Rankin mentions his farmhouse in the Dordogne. 'There's not a rightangle in the place. Part of it was a byre for animals in winter - the animals then heated the house.'

Although he has no DIY training he did much of the internal work himself - and made mistakes along the way.'I laid a tongueand-groove floor down in the living room without realising that you should be nailing it down as you go. It bounces like hell, but it's terrific for parties.'

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