funny that, eh.............looking a bit crude, think it may have shot its bolt?
Holyrood? Pull the vile thing down
Channel 4 viewers put the Â£431m Scottish Parliament on their list of Britain's most hated eyesore buildings
Sunday August 7, 2005
Built from Caithness stone, stainless steel, oak and sycamore, it was intended as a soaring symbol of democracy against the backdrop of Holyrood Park and Salisbury Crags. But less than a year after the Scottish Parliament building opened its doors, the public have delivered their verdict: knock it down.
The Â£431 million flagship at the foot of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, already mired in controversy after running 10 times over budget and opening three years late, has suffered the final indignity of joining a list of eyesores including Gateshead Car Park, Northampton Bus Station and Rugby Cement Works.
They are among Britain's 12 'most vile' buildings as voted by up to 8,000 viewers for a forthcoming Channel 4 series, Demolition, in which first prize is the wrecking ball - though this is hardly likely in the case of Holyrood. The others, revealed by the Architects' Journal website http://www.ajplus.co.uk
, include Westgate House in Newcastle, the Bournemouth Imax Cinema, Colliers Wood Brown & Root Tower and 'an extension to the old GLC building off Westminster Bridge'.
The series, which turns the BBC's Restoration on its head, is the brainchild of George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), who has inverted the concept of listed buildings by arguing that Britain's ugliest edifices should be given a Grade X-listing and not prolonged beyond their natural lives.
'Some of the nominations are ridiculous, but they enable a discussion about architecture, good or bad,' Ferguson said. 'It was never my intention that that X-listing should only be about demolishing buildings. The repair of a historic building can be about taking out something inappropriate and replacing it with something appropriate. It's about making them attractive and amenable places that lift the spirits. I think we have some buildings in Britain that demoralise and depress.'
The Catalan architect of the Scottish Parliament, the late Enric Miralles, said he was inspired by the dramatic landscape, the delicate flower paintings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the curve of upturned boats on the seashore. He described his vision as a building 'sitting in and growing out of the land of Scotland'. The product has been hailed as a masterpiece to rival the Forth Bridge, won several awards and was last month shortlisted for the Stirling Prize, Riba's annual award.
'I think you'll find some of the nominations are there for reasons other than architecture,' Ferguson said. 'Some people who dislike the Scottish Parliament have probably been influenced by harmful stories of the mismanagement of the process and cost or are opposed to devolution, so they turn against the building. That's not to say I take against criticism of the building as irrational, but I do think it is brilliant.'
Holyrood's inclusion also astonished Kevin McCloud, the Grand Designs presenter who will front Demolition along with a team including Janet Street-Porter. 'That I find shocking. [The Parliament building] is up against a lot of second-rate buildings,' he said. 'I'm a big fan of it. I think being a Member of the Scottish Parliament is one of the best jobs going in Britain right now. But that experience is not carried across both the interior and the exterior of the building.
'When the whole idea was first arrived at, the highest bracketed figure was Â£40 million and, of course, it's cost something like 10 times that now. It's inevitable that it has attracted a lot of bad feeling among Scots.'
Broadcaster Kirsty Wark, a member of the panel which selected Miralles to design the building, said: 'I think it's a terrific building. Sometimes you grow to like these things. Maybe people who want to see the Scottish Parliament demolished will find it grows on them.'
A spokesman for the Parliament said: 'Since the poll more than 400,000 people have visited the Holyrood building to see it for themselves and it has won six major architecture awards and been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. Channel 4's programme is looking to separate the controversies from the architectural merits of the building itself and we're delighted to help.'
In far greater jeopardy is Gateshead's multi-storey car park, earmarked for demolition by the local council despite opposition from its architect, Owen Luder, and the Twentieth Century Society. The Sixties structure, made famous by the Michael Caine gangster classic Get Carter, was once the symbol of the town but no longer fits Gateshead's aspirations to urban regeneration and has been branded a 'monstrosity'.
The final 'winner' of Demolition could well face destruction, but Channel 4 intends to erect a sustainable building in its place. Ferguson added: 'The series will inevitably influence buildings towards being demolished rather than having their lives artificially extended. But, more importantly, I hope it becomes a catalyst for change in our planning system.'