Azara Blog: Scottish Parliament wins building of the year

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Date published: 2005/10/15

The BBC says:

The Scottish Parliament building, which opened three years late and was massively over budget, has won the Stirling Prize for architecture.

It beat five other contenders including a library and new factories built for BMW and the McLaren Formula One team.

The prize honours the building which has made the biggest contribution to British architecture in the past year.

Last year the £20,000 award was won by the London's "Gherkin", which was designed by Lord Foster.

Foster and Partners had hoped to win the prize for the second year running for their design for the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey.

The judges described the building, which houses laboratories, testing facilities and electronic workshops in a 50-acre site, as "breathtaking".

But they chose the "remarkable architectural statement" of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh instead.

The building, designed by EMBT/RMJM Ltd, caused controversy by opening three years late and being 10 times over budget at £431m.

Can one really be surprised that the judges chose the Scottish Parliament over the other, mostly more deserving, buildings? The architecture community prefer big budgets, so why not award the building that wasted the most money for the least effect (space for a bunch of third-rate politicians). Even better, the public, on the whole, seem to dislike the building (apparently it featured rather high on a recent list of buildings that people wanted to see demolished). Well to be fair to the judges, last year the Gherkin was selected. Most years Foster has a building (or two) in the running and most years his building is just about the most popular with the public. Including this year. Of course RIBA named the prize after Stirling, who was responsible for one of the most novel but least functional buildings ever put up in Cambridge (the Faculty of History building). So that already shows you what they think is important in architecture. Style over substance.

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