Salmond, who opposed the construction of the Edinburgh building, criticised architect Enric Miralles. He said: “Miralles originally came up with a design for the debating chamber shaped like a coffin. The Catalan architect is in a world of his own.”
Salmond also described some elements of the design as a “bog standard” office block and criticised Miralles’ scheme as unsuitable for a modern parliamentary chamber. “It was originally three upturned boats. Miralles had to be asked to redesign it to give MSPs a modern horseshoe-shaped chamber,” he said. He added: “I wouldn’t pay £230m for this. It is entirely the wrong site, based on a false premiss. It was chosen for political reasons.”
Miralles’ office said he was unavailable for comment.
A number of factors are thought to have contributed to the spiralling costs. These include MSPs’ demands for more office space, problems with the foundations on part of the Holyrood site, and the fact that key elements of the project, such as the £40m fit-out, were not originally included.
Salmond called for work on the parliament to be stopped in a letter to Lord Steel, chairman of the body overseeing the project. He said: “No further costs should be incurred on the project until parliament takes a decision on how to proceed.”
A review was launched last week by the Scottish executive, to be headed by John Spencely, former president of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. He is checking cost estimates, delivery dates and occupation, and assessing whether the scheme represents value for money.
Salmond also attacked the project team, which includes architect RMJM and construction manager Bovis Lend Lease. He said: “The project team has estimated cancellation costs of £50m, but how reliable is this given its competence at estimating the construction costs in the first place?” The project team declined to comment.
The Scottish executive said: “Delays are costly and there is no intention of incurring extra expense until the team set up to review the project has delivered its report and parliament debated its contents.”