The essence of democracy

The Opening Doors visit to the Scottish Parliament was a first for Subash Punn. Here he describes why it made a lasting impression.

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Subash Punn on the Scottish Parliament: “Never judge this building by the cover”.

My first and as yet only visit to the Scottish Parliament was full of profound surprises, the three-hour experience as monumental as the building itself.

It is a building full of contradictions almost challenging you to free up your mind and open yourself up to creative debate, the very essence of democracy itself. It is palatial but at the same time intimate. The texture is cold but framed by raw warmth. The erratic ceiling heights, though clearly defined, appear to undulate smoothly.

It is a building that seems to give you a sense of the passage of time, where history appears to be created before your eyes, in the present. I watched solitary figures pass by and as they wisped through what I can only describe as a foyer area I became curious as to where they had come from and where they were going. And as they disappeared one by one through a large door, they had already made an impression on history, and by doing – what? – something as trivial as making their way from one place to another. Had I imagined these people or did they exist? But seriously seeking the answer to this question would be a betrayal to the building’s illusion itself.

I had on many occasions walked or driven past the Scottish Parliament, always dubious about its existence and appearance. After having seen the interior I feel it has helped me gain an affinity with the exterior. Never judge this building by the cover.

The parliament also gives you an insight into the architect, Enric Miralles, who sadly died in the year 2000. His presence, I feel, is still felt in the building itself, almost making you question as to whether his presence would have been so profoundly felt had he still been alive.

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