It struck me as ironic that your Green paper supplement should appear in the same issue as the review of the new Scottish Parliament building (BD October 15).
Green paper reinforces the view that there are no straightforward solutions to advancing environmental standards. The key challenge for designers is to produce architecture of quality that acknowledges the constraints of environmental issues. Major civic buildings are the real tests that can influence society. Holyrood is just such a challenge, with all Scots keen to be proud of this manifestation of their new status.
To me, however, it is clear that once the client determined that quality should not be sacrificed for economy, the architect was like a kid in a sweet shop. As Ellis Woodman says, the debating chamber “is the most elaborate interior built in Britain for many years”. The “frenzy of invention” has been achieved through the extravagant use of high-quality materials and complex building construction. If this is portrayed as magnificent architecture and the way forward for major public buildings, then refined elegant building with a genuine concern for the environment will be regarded by the public as lacking the “wow factor”, and sustainability will continue to be seen as a peripheral concern in the quest for architectural quality.
Adrian Napper, Edinburgh