Forget the skin, with Holyrood, beauty really is 'gut deep' - unfortunately however, it is not a public building like a museum or art gallery, so the majority of the well-conceived and presented internal spaces will only be available to a select few civil servants and MSP's.
But the intestinal path the guided press tour was dragged along (i was there with all the big guns) did reveal some real high points - the ever-present pallette of concrete, timber, steel and glass, (giving the impression of a fantastically designed film-set, culminating in the space-base-esque internal 'garden', with its sinewey steel and fussy timber clashing in the best possible way with Queensberry house - although bearing in mind what Miralles did with the exisiting structures of Utrecht town Hall, you can only imagine how awesome this space may have been had Scottish heritage not been such shitbags), and the obsession with curves which are explored in 3 rather than simply 2 dimensions - this makes for some gloriously nature-inspired, leaf-like, ceiling-scapes, one in particular looking like a rosebud just hours from unfurling its petals.
The scale of material application externally is woefull - black granite 'curtains' are a major error - they disorientate the eye - a sense of scale is abused - the colour theory is all wrong - the metallic cladding at the roof-wall interface is also inherently wrong from a visual persective - colour choice and scale again do nothing but jar.
The public gallery/entrace â€“ dim, low but strangley appealing, like the bowels of a castle, where you meet before launching your covert attack on the Kingâ€¦.
The debating chamber - hideously overated: at this stage anyway - perhaps with people in and all finishes applied but now:
cluttered. the handling of the light fitting seems especially cack-handed - the ceiling and roof structure is already very complex - why mess it up with so many lights which appear to have been positioned haphazardly?
Another strange detail: On leaving the debating chambers, the tall, slim concrete columns which drop down another storey - almost bonelike in appearance and certainly a reference to the sagrada familia - well, they are actually steel, wrapped in concrete. I realise the building is not necessarily about the 'nature of materials' etc. but this seemed strange to me.
Despite overuse in reviews, holyrood is exactly that.
But it's need to be - to get by all the naysayers who'd have banned the whole project.
anyway....msp's block - isn't this just cardross seminary. with bells on?
beautifully executed - with the exception of the poorly cantilevered stair well (done to increase office-space footprint on the plan presumably), which looks like it might fall of the block any minute, and clearly wasn't designed to be where it is now - really - it's looks naff)
the msp block is finished to perfection however - real craft on show, and it is kinda lovely - but perhaps too scuptural and fixed for todayâ€™s supposedly hot-desking environment - but perhaps, on the other hand, this inflexibility will provide a key for the whole development â€“
you know, in a â€˜Just get on with governing Scotland in an imaginative manner and stop moaning about your room sizeâ€™ kinda way.