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Scottish parliament puts the cart first . . .

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Leonard Barrington seems to have as much trouble with elementary geography and history as with grasping a simple argument (Letters, aj 7.5.98). You earlier reported correctly that I referred to Australia - not Austria - as an example of a nation whose elected assembly waited a while before choosing how to select the design for a new parliament. And, yes, I might well have mentioned Germany where the federal government in Bonn decided (for better or for worse) to hire Foster to rejig the old Reichstag building.

The point surely is that the German parliament already exists, and the simple point I was trying to make in my remarks to the Acanthus seminar on the Scottish Parliament competition is that good architecture depends upon a good brief and that it is absurd - as well as unprecedented - to commission a parliament building before the parliament it is to house actually exists. Only when its members have been elected can it decide on what it really wants.

In other words, there is at present no real client (or democracy) - only an autocratic Secretary of State. I believe that the future Scottish parliament should use the existing, already converted Royal High School as its home, if only as a temporary measure, before deciding what sort of new building mightbest reflect its - and Scotland's - purposes.



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