Old Royal High School / New Parliament House, Edinburgh, Scotland
The Neoclassical building in Edinburgh was constructed in the 1800s to house the Royal High School and since 1968 accommodated a debating chamber for the Scottish Parliament.
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The Royal High School was constructed between 1826 to 1829 on the south face of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, at a cost of £34,000. Of this £500 was given by King George IV ‘as a token of royal favour towards a School, which, as a royal foundation, had conferred for ages incalculable benefits on the community’. It was designed in a neo-classical Greek Doric style by Thomas Hamilton, who modelled the portico and Great Hall on the Hephaisteion of Athens.
After the Old Royal High School was vacated in 1968, the building became available and was refurbished to accommodate a new devolved legislature for Scotland. However, the 1979 devolution referendum failed to provide sufficient backing for a devolved assembly. Its debating chamber was later used for meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee, the committee of Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom House of Commons with constituencies in Scotland. Subsequently, the building has been used as offices for departments of Edinburgh City Council, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award unit and the Sports and Outdoor Education unit.
With the passage of the Scotland Act 1998 and the introduction of Scottish devolution in 1999, the Old Royal High School was again mooted as a potential home for the new Scottish Parliament. Eventually, however, the Scotland Office decided to site the new legislature in a purpose-built structure in the Holyrood area of the Canongate. A number of uses have been suggested for the building, including a home for a Scottish National Photography Centre. As of 2015, Edinburgh City Council – the building’s current owners – have initiated a project to lease the building to be used as a luxury hotel.