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HOLYROOD 'SHOULD LOSE STIRLING'

NEWS

Experts have questioned whether the Scottish Parliament should lose its Stirling Prize title after a beam fell from its roof.

An academic and an author on RMJM and Enric Miralles' Edinburgh building have both criticised Holyrood's design credentials following last week's incident - the latest in a long line of hiccups.

David Black, author of All the First Minister's Men - the Truth Behind Holyrood, explicitly called for the building to be stripped of the Stirling Prize. He said: 'They should revoke the prize, if someone had the guts to ask the right questions.

'There's a safety issue: a beam fell out of its fixing.

Maybe the MSPs should have got out their instruments and started playing Abide With Me as the ship went down.'

And Peter Wilson, an academic at the School of the Built Environment at Napier University, Edinburgh, also questioned the appropriateness of Holyrood's accolade.

He said: 'My view is that if you give a building an award early you're a hostage to fortune. I think giving buildings awards before they're out of their defects-liability period is highly questionable.' The Health and Safety Executive is now undertaking an investigation into how the 4m beam came loose from the ceiling of the building's debating chamber (pictured) last Thursday morning (02.03.06).

Parliament proceedings were cancelled and MSPs were moved from the chamber when the laminated oak ceiling beam slipped out of its stainless-steel mounting and swooped down over the heads of politicians.

On Monday evening (06.03.06), structural engineer Ove Arup carried out a detailed examination of the chamber, and was asked to produce a written report on the situation by Wednesday (08.03.06).

Meanwhile, the MSPs have been shifted to nearby venue The Hub to conduct business there until technicians can find the source of the problem.

The parliament's presiding officer George Reid said: 'Our focus must be on ensuring public safety.' Design expert Wilson put forward his own theory behind the cause of the incident.

He said that a large window in the chamber's ceiling could have exaggerated temperature fluctuations experienced by the roof's metalwork, which could then have loosened the beam.

The academic added that if the 'shoes' in which the beams sit had been rotated by 90º the accident could have been avoided.

In the light of emerging criticism, Piers Gough, one of 2005's Stirling Prize jury members, jumped to the building's defence.

He said: 'When you do unusual things, unusual things are going to go wrong. That's part of life. Someone slipped up somewhere.' Holyrood has repeatedly been criticised after it came in hugely over budget when it was eventually completed last year.

It was also voted one of the British public's ten most-hated buildings in a poll ahead of the recently aired Channel 4 television series Demolition.

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