Miralles fans plan protest against new parliament security annexe

An artist's impression of how the new security annexe might look
An artist's impression of how the new security annexe might look
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FANS of Holyrood architect Enric Miralles were today set to demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament against plans for a £6.5 million security annexe which they say will ruin the award-winning building.

The protesters were lobbying Doors Open Day visitors to the parliament to sign a petition branding the proposed extension an “unjustified expense” and calling for it to be halted.

The parliament’s cross-party corporate body announced earlier this month it was to go ahead with the annexe at the front of the building, facing the Palace of Holyroodhouse, after advice from security experts.

But architectural student Ruairidh Moir, a devotee of Miralles, said: “This is the public face of our parliament. What is proposed here is something with the finesse and charm of a portable cabin.”

He said Miralles – who died before the building was completed – had made the existing entrance a key part of his design and the security extension would destroy its integrity.

“They are going to take you in where the current cafe is – you come in at a really awkward position, you double back on yourself and go down a long glass corridor.

“If the entrance had been like this in the original design, they would not have won any of the awards they got.”

He said the corporate body had not even put the issue before MSPs.

“These people are custodians of our building and they are ruining it without consulting anyone. It’s a scandal.

“What we would like is a breathing space – just to stop, consult the people and get a more balanced view.”

Construction of the new extension is due to start on October 8, the eve of the eighth anniversary of the opening of the Holyrood building.

Architect John Kinsley, who was a key member of the team for the parliament, has pointed out the original design of the building incorporated security requirements into the architectural concept. He voiced concern at the “creeping fortification” of the building and said he could see “little tangible security benefit” in the new extension.

Mr Kinsley added: “I don’t think it’s good enough for a democratically elected government to shelter behind some unspecified security advisor and say ‘it needs to go ahead’ when the original design team, who know the building and the parameters to which it was designed better than anyone have said that we disagree.

“We have challenged the parliament to explain properly why they think the extension is justified, but they won’t reply.”

A parliament spokesman said: “The clear and consistent security advice is that we should build an external security facility, as we have a duty of care to the 400,000 people who visit Holyrood each year.

“The SPCB is satisfied that Edinburgh-based design team Lee Boyd has produced a design that is very sympathetic to the Parliament’s architecture and surrounding environment.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com