14 January 2011

"There will be a Scottish parliament"

We took a group tour of the lower Mile and Scottish Parliament this afternoon. It was more interesting than I had thought it would be!

First, Karen, our Program Director (who also happens to be employed as a professional tour guide here in Edinburgh) pointed out some historically significant things on and around the Royal Mile that I would have probably never noticed myself - at least, it would have taken me a while, so it was nice to have sped up that process. When we made it to Parliament, at the end of the Mile, she also took time to point out Holyrood Palace (the royal residence) and the surrounding park, which contains Edinburgh's famous peak, Arthur's Seat.

Our tour inside the Parliament building was led by a Parliament tour guide, Sofia, so we were able to gain access to otherwise restricted areas - we even got to see some committee meetings! Well, Sofia DID keep stressing to us that it was a "working parliament"...anyway, one of the things that really stood out to me (and, okay, probably everyone with visual capabilities) was the architecture of the building complex. There's a very organic theme to the place, whether viewed aerially or on ground level - at first glance, at least. The design of everything is very symbolic: while the shapes and decor to many appear to be leaves and branches, it's really open to interpretation. I've included some stock images that I just found on GoodSearch - actually, their source is an architecture and design showcase website! - because no photos were allowed during the tour time, and we didn't really stick around afterward.

It's a very new complex, too - it was just completed in 2004. All technology and furnishings are, of course, state-of-the-art, and the buildings noticeably stick out from those around them. Yet, because of the above-mentioned natural theme of it all, it doesn't quite seem out of place. I will definitely be making a trip or two back there, if only to read the Scotland and government quotes engraved on the outer wall - and I will remember to take pictures this time!

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