EML 04 - 09 - 2010

A New Parliament Governments from across the globe certainly have more differences than similarities. However, they all require a place to conduct the day-to-day running of their respective nations. Because most governments were founded so long ago, the built edifices they occupy are no longer adequate for their modern requirements. Some, the British Houses of Parliament for instance, occupy buildings for entirely different purposes. Because Edinburgh's government is only recently devolved, they were given a unique opportunity to design a new structure that embodies the principles of a modern government. Most noticeably, Edinburgh's New Parliament (top) is not limited to an axially symmetric plan, as many government buildings are. Instead, each space inside the building is given the precise amount of space it needs. In a building with the burden of symmetry, compromises are undoubtedly made to balance the composition. Enric Miralles' design allows each space to be sized and shaped independently, according to the functions each space requires. The government of Edinburgh chose this opportunity to set an example of good sustainable principles. Miralles' design incorporates a few big ticket sustainable features including several green roofs and a substantial rainwater collection system which provides the building with its non-potable water needs. While these features are certainly admirable, the assembly hall's structural system is both wildly wasteful and expensive (not to mention the entire project was nearly 300% over budget). Perhaps the most interesting feature of the assembly hall (apart from the ridiculous structure) is its daylighting scheme (bottom). Clerestory windows, obscured by the hall's ceiling, let daylight into the space. In an attempt to bring the light deeper into the space, Miralles these glass panels. They are oriented to reflect light towards the center of the room. The frames of the glass panels also include electric lights to provide a similar effect when the sun is unavailable.

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