First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is being put up in a hotel while emergency repairs are carried out at her official residence.
Bute House, a striking 18th century town house in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, was shut after routine monitoring revealed urgent ceiling repairs were required in the A-listed building.
Ms Sturgeon will be staying at a hotel in the capital this week, paid for by taxpayers, while alternative accommodation is sought.
Meetings of the Scottish Cabinet will take place at St Andrew’s House for the duration of the works.
The repairs have been advised by the building’s conservationists and are being co-ordinated by Historic Environment Scotland.
They are expected to be completed over the winter months. The Scotsman understands “visible damage” was discovered and the property
was closed to staff at the end of last week.
Due to the Scottish Parliament being in recess, the First Minister was not in residence at the time.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Temporary alternative arrangements are being put in place for the First Minister’s accommodation and working requirements while she is in Edinburgh.”
Bute House was one of the final projects overseen by celebrated Georgian architect Robert Adam and is a key part of the New Town World Heritage Site.
Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said the building and the rest of Charlotte Square were of the “highest architectural importance to Scotland and the wider world”.
“There is no question that the Georgian buildings that make up the New Town, including Bute House, are of special importance,” he said.
“But Charlotte Square in particular, because of the work of Robert Adam, is something unique.
“Old buildings do shift, so if cracks are discovered they are quite right to close the building to undertake repairs.”
Bute House, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, was formerly the official residence of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
It was handed over for use by the First Minister following devolution in 1999.
Charlotte Square is one of Mr Adam’s best known works.
Born in Kirkcaldy, Mr Adam had one of the most celebrated architectural careers in modern British history, with his work inspiring countless imitators across Europe and North America.
He almost single-handedly ushered in an era of neoclassical refinement at a time when high society was still in thrall to Palladio.
Culzean Castle on Scotland’s Ayrshire coast is amongst other celebrated buildings designed by Mr Adam.
Charlotte Square, including Bute House, was commissioned in 1791 by Edinburgh town council as the impressive culmination of the ambitious New Town project.
Several buildings on the square were donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1956 by John Crichton-Stuart, sixth Marquess of Bute, on the death of his father as part of a settlement of inheritance taxes.
Bute House has played host to visits by major world political figures like that of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1984.
In 2011, when Alex Salmond was First Minister, he was said to be interested in swapping Bute House for the castle-like Governor’s House, which survived when the old Calton Jail was demolished to make way for St Andrew’s House.
The 200-year-old property, which was largely empty, was already owned by the government.
The idea of switching the official residence came at a time when renovation work costing up to £3.5 million was being discussed for Bute House.