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Reviving the Royal High

The Catalan influence on Scottish devolution continues with this week's announcement that a Barcelona-based architect has won the competition to design the parliament building. Meanwhile, as our report on page 18 shows, another artist who plans on a European scale has come up with an ambitious long-term project for the former Royal High School, the previous site set aside for the parliament. Irrepressible Richard Demarco wants the building to house the European Youth Parliament and his arts foundation. In other words, he wants the old Royal High to regain an educational purpose.

The youth parliament, which at presents convenes in a different European city each year with two schools chosen to represent each country, has a cultural dimension as well as focusing on the potential and the problems of European government. Mr Demarco would like it to have a permanent base complementing Scotland's new domestic forum.

He is never short of ideas, and over the years a surprisingly high percentage of his artistic projects - some of them on first encounter outlandish - have proved successful. Yet he has lacked substance, in several senses of that word. He has had several galleries and offices and is about to lose his present base, another former school, St Mary's. His latest venture he describes as a re-creation of the Enlightenment. Will he find the substance for an educational ideal?

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