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Miralles' response to Edinburgh topography

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Enric Miralles and rmjm Scotland's competition-winning plan for a new Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh aims to be a 'fundamentally distinctive' construction featuring a debating chamber roofline of upturned 'boats', prefabricated in Scottish shipyards.

The Holyrood scheme, announced the winner this week by selection panel chairman Donald Dewar, aims to 'sit within the land' and originate from the sloping base of Arthur's Seat, arriving into the city 'almost out of the rock'. Miralles' boat idea is a 'remembrance that sticks in his mind' but is also informed by the need for construction speed and quality. The design team has eschewed the idea - prevalent in many of the shortlisted architects' proposals - for the debating chamber to symbolise political transparency by an extensive use of glass: 'We do not imagine a room full of glass. It is not a view room, nor an observatory.' That symbol of participation will come from the act of 'sitting together in land'. Nevertheless, views out to the Burns monument from the chambers and the distant profile of the city will be 'framed' like paintinbe visible from the public galleries. The public and media will access the chamber via a separate entrance from the mps.

The architects have striven for a university campus feel, ordering spaces 'like a monastery' with a series of buildings around a cloister. The Queensbury House, which will have a library and garden, will act as the cloister. Other buildings along Canongate will be retained to house a clerk's office, a parliament manager and offices. The concourse between members' and ministers' rooms and the debating chamber, nicknamed the 'Valley', sits above a service floor and is covered by a wood and glass roof.

Outside, an extensive use of turf will be made, with turf bricks paving the areas between the buildings and the land. Stone will be the main cladding in the parliamentary office building, with wooden window frames. 'Wood, panels of wood and laminated wood will be the second most important material for our building,' say the architects.

Ove Arup Scotland will also work on the project, alongside Sandy Brown Associates Acoustic Consultants and Jonathan Spiers Lighting Architects.

Dewar praised Miralles' enthusiasm, energy and track record: 'The panel liked the sensitivity and scale of his initial ideas, which provide a blueprint for an exciting new building at the foot of the Royal Mile that sits well with the spectacular backdrop of Holyrood Park and Salisbury Crags.'

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