The Debating Chamber is located directly above the Main Hall. It is purpose-built to meet the needs of the Parliament, the public and the media. It is a modern space, finished in oak, sycamore and glass, and provides an impressive centrepiece to Enric Miralles’ vision for the new Scottish Parliament
All Chamber business is webcast live from Parliament TV and details of current and forthcoming business can be found in the Chamber section of the website.
The roof structure is made from reinforced steel and oak laminated beams. This enables the Chamber to span 30 metres without supporting columns, an overall area of approximately 1200 square metres. The roof beams are held in place by 112 unique stainless steel nodes or connecting joints made in Aberdeen, and are one of the Chamber’s most prominent design features.
The west wall of the Chamber includes 1,000 square metres of laminated glass panels. Each panel has a sycamore veneer layer, sandwiched in horizontal strips between two layers of glass, and featuring distinctive cut-out shapes which were intended by the architect as people shapes to give a human scale to the chamber - a modern equivalent to statues on buildings.
Seating and desks
The Chamber contains 131 seats and desks, arranged in a semi-circular layout, for MSPs, the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General, as well as an area for the Presiding Officer. The ceremonial mace is also placed here. The first two rows and the rear row of MSPs’ desks (over 60 seats in all) are accessible to wheelchair users. The desks are made of oak and sycamore and were designed by Enric Miralles. The chairs were supplied by Godfrey Syrett Ltd.
In the upper level of the Debating Chamber there is a gallery with seating for 225 members of the public, 18 invited guests and 34 members of the media. 6 of these seats are designed for wheelchair users. The seats in the Public Gallery are based on the design of a chair by Enric Miralles and were manufactured by Sellex of Madrid. From this level there are views out over the landscaping towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Salisbury Crags. Members, staff and public have access to a fixed induction loop system.
The new Chamber includes four broadcasting booths and a dedicated booth for the Official Report. Two separate translation booths are also located in the Chamber. These enable the Parliament to translate for MSPs and others in two different languages simultaneously.
The patterned carpet on the floor of the Chamber was designed by Enric Miralles at an early stage in the project. A further four colour variations are used throughout the campus.
The Arniston Stones, part of the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament, are located above the door to the glazed walkway leading to the Chamber, and are one of the key symbolic links between Holyrood and Scotland’s history. The stones were donated to the Parliament by the Dundas-Bekker family, who own Arniston House in Midlothian. The stones were used as part of a bridge over a little burn which runs through the grounds of Arniston House.