Edinburgh sites in running to be crowned building of the century

The Scottish Parliament. Picture: Scott Louden
The Scottish Parliament. Picture: Scott Louden
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THE Scottish Parliament building and the modern extension to Edinburgh’s Victorian Royal Museum will compete with a shopping centre, a former tyre factory and a tiny concrete castle for the honour of being named the nation’s best building of the last century.

The 12-year-old Holyrood complex, designed by Spanish architect Enric Miralles, and Benson & Forsyth’s 1998 museum wing are expected to be two of the favourites for the title, which will be decided by a public poll.

They will be up against the Princes Square shopping centre, on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, which was given a modern makeover 30 years ago.

Other buildings on the shortlist – drawn from 100 contenders selected by an expert panel – include what is reputed to be Europe’s smallest castle, built by English architect David Scott at Achmelvich in the north-west Highlands in the 1950s, and a neglected art deco pavilion on the Isle of Bute, which is due to reopen in 2018.

The most recently-completed contender is the Pier Arts Centre, in Stromness, on Orkney, which was completed nine years ago.

The oldest are a revamp of St Conan’s Kirk, on the shore of Loch Awe, in Argyll, which began in 1906 and was finally finished in 1930, and the India Tyre and Rubber Factory at Inchinnan, in Renfrewshire, which has been home to the technology firm Kana for the last three years.

Dundee, which was named the UK’s first Unesco City of Design two years ago, has two contenders in the running – the home of its rep theatre company, which opened in 1982, and the DCA arts centre, which was unveiled in 1999.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, which is behind the “Scotstyle” project, has also produced a lavish guide to the 100 best buildings as part of its year-long Festival of Architecture.

It has attracted around 28,000 people to more than 25 exhibitions staged around the country since the 100-strong longlist, chosen by architectural experts, critics and historians, was announced in December.

Further exhibitions are planned in Stromness, Kirkcaldy, Glasgow and Dundee, with the winner due to be revealed during a festival finale event in November.

The original longlist featured historic bandstands, bank buildings and factories.

The ten finalists were chosen based on votes cast by the public. Voting opens today on the new shortlist.

Among the buildings to miss out were the Tramway arts centre in Glasgow, the Royal Commonwealth Pool and the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

Neil Baxter, secretary of the RIAS, said: “This brilliant list testifies to the extraordinary quality of Scotland’s buildings.

“The fact that so many are relatively recent demonstrates that our national architecture is in very good health. We have much to celebrate.” Ruth Gill, director of public programmes at National Museums Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the National Museum of Scotland has been named one of the nation’s finest buildings of the last 100 years.”