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SCOTLAND'S PRESTIGIOUS new parliament building in Edinburgh will be less architecturally controversial than originally conceived, according to revised designs released last week.

Scottish Office sources denied that the scaled down architecture was to ensure the two year project, due to start next summer, remained within its government-set 50M budget.

The earlier concept, resembling a group of upturned boats, is less visible in the latest designs.

'But the original roof shape remains and the overall complex has been altered only to blend more sympathetically with surrounding buildings,' said a senior Scottish Office engineer.

Demolition begins this week on the site close to Holyrood Palace. The main construction management contractor is expected to be chosen next month from a shortlist of four. Sir Robert McAlpine, Bovis, Laing and HBG Construction are believed to still

be in the running from an original list of 16.

The architectural team of Spain's Enric Miralles and Edinburgh firm RMJM will finalise designs by spring, with the new building operational by autumn 2001.

After its creation next May, the Parliament will be temporarily housed in Edinburgh's Church of God Assembly Hall, where a 1M refurbishment is already under way.

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