Architect’s bamboo gaffe threatens Scottish parliament extension

Work under way on the Holyrood extension
Work under way on the Holyrood extension
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PLANNING permission for a controversial £6.5 million extension to the Scottish Parliament building may have to be reconsidered because documents submitted by the architects named the wrong building materials.

Lee Boyd architects described the wooden poles which adorn the outside of the building as bamboo, when they are in fact oak. Some of the poles are due to be transferred to the exterior of the security annexe once it is built.

Now campaigners are calling for work on the extension to 
be halted and the plans to 
be put out to renewed public consultation.

The documents submitted by Lee Boyd to the council also featured quotes from the original project architect Enric Miralles which they dated 2004, four years after his death while the building was still under construction.

Ruairidh Moir, who is leading the campaign against the extension, said: “That is quite a glaring mistake and one that should not have happened. It suggests they may not have thoroughly understood the ethos of the original project.”

Mr Moir has written to the council, highlighting the errors and urging a halt to construction “so the public can be ­re-consulted on the relocation of the original oak poles, which are such a distinctive feature of the award-winning building’s facades”.

He acknowledged many people did refer to the poles as bamboo because of their appearance, but said that was no excuse for architects in official documents.

He said: “As a professional you would want to make sure your description of the materials was correct. You would not use nicknames. Although many parts of the building have developed their own character, it’s very obvious it’s not bamboo. At first I thought maybe it was just one slip, but it is repeated all through the reports. The drawings all say ‘bamboo poles’. They even have photographs of the poles and call them bamboo.

“It shows a lack of basic knowledge and understanding of the building.”

Lee Boyd was chosen by Holyrood bosses to design the new security annexe rather than Miralles’ widow Benedetta Tagliabue, 49, who said she would have liked to be involved.

Today, Lee Boyd declined to discuss any of the matters raised by Mr Moir, saying it was under strict instructions to refer all inquiries to the parliament: “We have been asked not to have any communication with the media on this project.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “We will be removing and then reinstating the existing oak lattice.

“There will be no material change to the building, and construction work is progressing on schedule.”