THE widow of Holyrood architect Enric Miralles says she wants to be involved in any changes to the Scottish Parliament building – if there is a Yes vote for independence.
Benedetta Tagliabue, who still heads the couple’s Barcelona-based architectural practice, said if extra accommodation has to be created for an increased number of MSPs to handle an independent Scotland she would like to ensure the revamp is in line with the original ideas that inspired the £414 million parliament.
Making her first visit to Holyrood since 2005, she said she liked the idea of independence and suggested the parliament building had helped create a feeling of self-confidence in Scotland.
She repeated her criticism of the £6.5m security annex currently being built at the front of the parliament – on which she was not consulted – and voiced concerns about the impact of some of the other security measures put in place since she last saw the building, including oversized bollards and turnstiles where the ceremonial entrance was planned.
But she insisted the building itself was looking “fantastic” and said her husband, who died in 2000 while it was still under construction, would have been “so happy” to see his ideas turned into reality.
Ms Tagliabue said she had established the Enric Miralles Foundation, which she hoped would maintain links with the buildings her husband designed.
She said: “I would hope through this link we would also find a way to have a conversation about how to change the building. When something major is happening like the security extension which is affecting the public image of the building itself, maybe we could have arrived together at a different solution.”
Earlier this year, SNP MSP Dave Thompson caused controversy by suggesting independence might mean an extra 70 MSPs would be needed to deal with new areas of responsibility such as welfare, defence and foreign affairs.
Ms Tagliabue said: “If the Yes vote happens and many things have to change, I would love to have a connection with the client and to be taken into consideration as one of the survivors who is now still leading the same office which was involved in this and also leading the Miralles Foundation which is looking after what happened in the time of his life.”
Any alterations should be carried out “in symphony with the original ideas”, she added.
She said trying to accommodate more politicians at Holyrood would be complicated but not impossible.
“Enlarging is really hard because this building was done thinking about a determined number of MSPs.”
Although the chamber is large, it was designed for the current total of 129 MSPs, all of whom have individual desks.
She said: “Maybe the desks you can design again. I think buildings have to adapt.”
Living in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, Ms Tagliabue is no stranger to debates about independence.
“In Catalonia they are now asking for independence, but there’s not so much sophistication as here,” she said.
“Here the politicians are more prepared, sophisticated, very good at explaining and I think we have to learn a lot. It’s a similar situation but you seem to be better prepared. Maybe it’s also because you have a fantastic building which is giving a lot of self-confidence.”
And her own view on independence? “I like it, but it’s so difficult because when you say about independence, it seems there is someone who is in favour and someone who is against and you really take a position.
“I am a person who likes to be in every position, but it has to be a relationship, which means you are never totally independent – being part of Europe and still having a special relationship with England.”