Enric Miralles always spoke about the Parliament “sitting in the land”, and a landscape scheme has been laid out around the building as part of the overall project. To realise this conceptual idea, many of the structures have been turfed and “concrete branches”, covered in grass, flow from the site, connecting the leaf-shaped buildings with the adjacent parkland.

The landscaping softens the concrete canopies with the introduction of wild flower meadows, roof top gardens, ponds, plants, flowers, trees and wood.

The Parliament sits in the land because it belongs to the Scottish Land. ...We don’t want to forget that the Scottish Parliament will be in Edinburgh, but will belong to Scotland, to the Scottish Land. The Parliament should be able to reflect the land which it represents. The building should originate from the sloping base of Arthur’s seat and arrive into the city almost out of the rock. - Miralles (Building Concept Design)

Flowers, Plants and Trees

Enric Miralles liked the idea of planting indigenous Scottish wildflowers, trees and shrubs. He specified the use of wild grasses and trees already found in the area as well as trees representing those found across Scotland. The wild flower meadows were designed to contrast with the cut turf lawns and Miralles chose to re-introduced flowers such as 'Sticky Catchfly', 'Dropwort' and 'Meadow Crane's-bill' into the meadows.

The oak and lime trees in the landscaped area were designed to mirror those in the perimeter of Holyrood Palace. In addition Rowan trees, traditionally seen as a symbol of good luck, have been planted in various locations around the parliament. A solitary tree has been planted close to the public entrance.

View a list of the plants, flowers and trees (18KB pdf) used in the grounds.
Architectural landscape and wildlife at the Scottish Parliament (5.3MB pdf)

Water, Wood and Stone

There are three water features, in front of the oak and concrete façade of the main entrance. The ponds were designed to reflect the lochans in Holyrood Park and to mark the entrance to the building.

Wood has been used extensively on the exterior of the building. Most noticeably wooden poles can be seen on the windows of the MSP building and the upper pergola outside the public entrance. The solid oak poles are an architectural feature and the design is mirrored in concrete form on walls around the perimeter of the complex.

The Gabion walls are a unique design feature within the landscaping. The walls were constructed using stones from some of the buildings previously on the site.

Roof Top Garden

At the end of the Canongate Wall there is a gap which opens to a small roof top garden nestled behind the 'Mackintosh' style railings. At the foot of the garden is a single Rowan Tree. The garden and the tree were designed to allow the landscaping and the park to break through to the Canongate.

External Features

The area, with its walkways and cycle routes, is very much an open and accessible public space.

To appreciate fully the layout of the Parliament complex, it is best viewed from an elevated vantage point.

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