Celebrating the top 100 buildings from 1916-2015, nominated by the Scottish public.
This free exhibition is touring the length and breadth of Scotland, across all regions, accompanied by a superb new publication Scotstyle: 100 Years of Scottish Architecture (1916-2015), edited by Neil Baxter and Fiona Sinclair, featuring the top 100 buildings.
Scotstyle is sponsored by:
The top ten buildings were announced on Friday 17th August at 6.30pm. The winner will be announced at the Festival of Architecture Finale on 18 November 2016.
Along with his sister Helen, amateur architect Campbell devoted the latter part of his life to this most exquisite of lochside buildings. His legacy is an extraordinary, eclectic church of considerable charm that took forty years to complete. The approach from the road provides few clues to the originality of the loch-facing frontage or the church’s interior richness. Facing Loch Awe, a hound chasing two hares and a row of tiny carved owls decorate the heavily buttressed frontage.
Arresting and exotic, the 1928 Firestone Tyre Factory on Brentford’s Great West Road provided the template for the India Tyre Company’s equally stunning Renfrewshire facility. The younger building was less ornate, but its Art Deco exterior shared the giant chamfered piers, stocky raised end pylons with stylised corbels, and glorious use of coloured glazed tile. It was a remarkable sight, even on the outskirts of a village built around airship manufacture. With the Firestone building demolished, the Inchinnan office block is an important survivor.
This 1936 competition-winning design gave Glasgow holidaymakers at the end of the 1930s an experience of stylish, modern seaside elegance to rival anything in Europe. The main bulk of the building is the rectangular dancehall and auditorium. Above the huge, glazed, cantilevered, semi-circular buffet. Is an open-air roof terrace, pragmatically (this is still Scotland’s west coast after all) covered by an over-sailing concrete canopy. In its introduction of continental glamour to Rothesay, Mr Carrick’s superb pavilion created something of truly international style and panache.
Scotland’s coast is dotted with gun emplacements from the Second World War, now atmospheric relics. The Hermit’s Castle is their even more enigmatic architectural relative. Sitting high above a rocky inlet half a kilometre away from the nearest habitation, it is constructed from in-situ poured concrete and appears to grow from the rock it sits on, the cement presumably mixed with local sand and aggregate. It contains one simple room, a one-man castle.
This award-winning response to the brief was ‘modern monumental’, expressing the civic importance of the building within a very tight budget. Great, shaped blocks are set up in an informal post and lintel arrangement, in step with the postmodern journey towards classicism by way of apparently plainly expressed structure. The front-of-house interior is fully expressed on the exterior, lightly glazed so that the concrete staircase seems caught between the two conditions, invitingly open and accessible. Lit up at night, the effect of openness is even more pronounced.
Princes Square is not just another shopping centre. The architects decided to cover the cobbled square with a vast, vaulted, glass dome and insert new internal walkways and socialising spaces. The combination of the symmetrical criss-cross escalators, spiral staircases and towering vertical white pillars creates a most enjoyable experience. Though the shopper is not quite outside, nor are they entirely indoors either. The historic charm of the 1840s square remains through the retention of the original frontages.
Adjoining Captain Fowke’s original building, the extension has respected its site and context by its mass and material selection. An ensemble of simple forms confidently arranged, its surfaces have been carved into, pitted and excavated, much like the artefacts contained within. The interiors feature a concentration of exhilarating contrasts: pends; bridges; cavities; pierced incisions. Great halls and intimate rooms make for a rich variety of spaces – each seeming to embrace the collection.
By physically placing the public functions at the heart of the complex, visitors are invited into the art world. ‘L’-shaped in plan, the building nudges into the public realm and guides visitors towards its entrance with an enticing curve set against a bold oversailing prow-roof, projecting over a large recessed doorway. Galleries, cinemas, shop, research spaces and printmaking workshops all have a presence within this public hub. DCA proves that good architecture exists when the users’ requirements are carefully considered and exceeded.
Setting out a collage of rocks, stems and leaves, the Catalan architect Enric Miralles suggested that the building should represent Scotland as a landscape. The Parliament takes root at the base of Salisbury Crags and flows towards the city like bulging veins beneath a turf skin with a series of tense contour tracks, creating an open, public amphitheatre. This gathering space then predicates the geometry of the debating chamber, establishing it as the heart of the complex. This is highly charged architecture of allegories, signs and symbols.
Light spills into this beautiful, crisply delineated building by day and glows from it at night. The heritage of Stromness Waterfront is simultaneously respected and enhanced by a building which both houses the collection within and becomes a crucial part of it. The re-development included refurbishing the existing buildings and adding a striking new ‘shed’, which has more than doubled the display space of the gallery and enabled the addition of a shop and offices.
Construction of the Rosyth Naval Dockyard began in 1909 with over a thousand men employed. Permanent accommodation was required for dockyard workers. The Scottish National Housing Company was formed to build Rosyth Garden Village. Work began in 1915, and the first house was occupied by May 1916. A pleasant garden suburb was created with tree-lined crescents and avenues surrounding a central park. The “New Town” of Rosyth heralded the way for much of Scotland’s public housing in the twentieth century.
The East Suffolk Road Halls were the first student halls of residence in Scotland built exclusively for women. The original intention was to have seven hostels, but only three were completed in the first phase – Buchanan, Playfair and Balfour Halls. The buildings are reminiscent of Robert Lorimer, having an Arts and Crafts air, all satisfyingly grouped around a large lawn. The elevations comprise advanced gabled porches, bow windows and many small-paned windows.
The fairytale Dutch Village is built on a small island in an ornamental lake. Viewed from a distance it is reminiscent of the chateaux in the Loire Valley where the buildings are reflected in the water. However, there the similarity ends as the buildings in the Dutch Village are white harled with red pantiled roofs, enclosed and linked together by perimeter walls and a columned loggia. Close by is a grotto and a series of three cascades.
The greatest achievement at Cour is how the building nestles into its site and appears to rise out of the ground. The entrance front is relatively low and belies the fact that at the rear the landscape steps down towards the sea. The plan is essentially “L”-shaped with beehive-roofed towers, the whole composition crowned by a series of massive roofs. Stylistically, Cour is a conundrum – it looks both to history and the future. However, it is relaxed and romantic in a wonderful setting.
The scale of this building belies its size as the various elements are broken up and cannot be readily viewed together. The entrance elevation is small but monumental: it has Baroque details with much use of channelled ashlar; a broken pediment surmounts the doorway. To the left of the entrance is a blank wall forming the rear of the lecture theatre with a tall, decorative louvred cupola ventilator above.
The eastern extension to Glasgow’s City Chambers was the subject of an open competition. The winning design comprised a block of four storeys with basement and attic whose principal elevation to Cochrane Street is of ten bays. The extension is linked to William Young’s City Chambers by a pair of supremely elegant, French Renaissance-inspired, arches. Tall central arches are flanked by smaller pedestrian arches on either side. They create an elegant connection between the original building and its successor.
Perthshire-born Miller was one of the most successful Scottish architects of all time. Although strongly influenced by North American architecture he never travelled there. By the end of the First World War, Miller was approaching sixty, but producing a confident urban neo-baroque style. This building is seven storeys with basement, the steel frame clad in pale sandstone. There are only five bays to George Square, half the intended length. Had it been completed, this would have been an inter-war classic.
This bandstand, opened in 1924, is one of only three in Scotland with an amphitheatre. At the height of its popularity there was seating for 3000 and standing room for 7000. It occupies a picturesque location immediately adjacent to the Kelvin, the oval amphitheatre making use of the natural slope of the land. Brick-built with whitewashed render and half-timbering, the building has a red brick base and window dressings, and corniced string course. The stage is framed by tapered Ionic columns.
In late Victorian times an octagonal bandstand stood on Rothesay esplanade gardens. When the development of the Winter Gardens commenced, it was incorporated into the new building as its stage. With a nod to the nearby castle, a circular plan form was adopted. A 25-metre diameter glass dome half envelops the bandstand supported on radial steel ribs culminating in a central boss. Excellent detail abounds. It is an exciting example of seaside architectural flamboyance.
A particularly fine example of neo-classical work of the period, the war memorial comprises a restrained concave quadrant. Creating the curve is a colonnade of six tall Corinthian columns silhouetted against an inscribed wall under a heavy entablature - all in severe grey granite to underline the solemn purpose of the memorial. Sitting within the quadrant, flanked by steps, is a massive dignified lion sculpture. Inside, and largely unseen by the public, is a beautiful, octagonal, marble-clad hall of remembrance filled with light.
Painful in subject – a tribute to the many Scots who fell during the First World War – and painful, too, for the architect, who cannot have imagined the controversy that would accompany its creation. Crowning the apex of the castle rock, the memorial comprises a buttressed shrine protruding north from a “U”-shaped gallery of honour. Rugged and rooted to its site (the ragged basalt emerging through the smooth granite floor), the building derives sophistication from the expertly proportioned interior and decorative work of the highest order.
Few architects conveyed the mercantile might of banking as powerfully as Miller. Eight storeys high over a raised basement, built of pale polished ashlar on a slightly sloping corner site, this composition employs a giant order not once, but twice, reinforcing the importance of the institution. The Greek Ionic colonnade rising through the lower three floors on the entrance front (the massive bases at pedestrian head height) is flattened out on the Renfield Street façade, where the layout once incorporated shops.
Daringly stripped of applied decoration, this monumental ashlar cube represents Burnet’s last major design. It has a purity and control that speaks of an architect embracing modernity with confidence and effortless ease: most of the deeply recessed windows have neither cill nor hoodmould, although some have the barest hint of a keystone. For all its severity, there is nonetheless a designed sculpture scheme with maritime overtones; stylised seahorses, a Viking longboat, a galleon and St Andrew, standing in the prow of a ship.
Belonging to the beginning of a decade during which classicism was surrendered slowly on the streets of Glasgow’s insurance quarter, this urban behemoth was won in open competition in 1927. Wylie built nothing larger than these Bothwell Street offices. While none of the component parts of granite plinth, giant order, metal-framed windows and heavy cornice were unfamiliar in the city, they are here assembled with formidable rigour. The shop frontages (framed in bronze) are amongst the most stylish in the city.
So much is innovative about this large cruciform church: the use, for instance, of a concrete frame and red facing brick. The style departed from the traditional with an Italianate frontage flattened and broadened and flanking façades with barrel-headed windows. The architectural themes tested in St. Anne’s were further developed in churches at Maryhill, Greenock and Rutherglen. Taken together, their influence would extend across the country and continue to shape new church architecture well after the Second World War.
Studying together at Edinburgh College of Art, Kininmonth and Spence both joined the office of Rowand Anderson and Paul as young graduates. Their creative liaison produced a series of striking Modernist houses, including Kininmonth’s own. Here, he rejected tradition in favour of the International Style. After all, what better client to work for, and what better way to promote his fledgling practice? Streamlined and sophisticated, the house is built of brick, first painted white, but later harled.
The 1929 Galloway hydro-electric scheme gifted to southwest Scotland industrial architecture of real refinement. Five generating stations, five reservoirs, a single barrage and a series of dams and tunnels, together delivered total peak power of around 106 megawatts. The power station at Tongland, largest of the five, its turbine hall appearing to float over the River Dee, came into operation first, in March 1935. Tongland has a timeless quality, piers of cream-painted reinforced concrete alternating with ribbon strips of metal-framed glazing.
The least conventionally classical of Miller’s commercial buildings, conveying great size while relatively small: monochrome and audacious. Nearing the end of his long career by the time the building was opened, he could be forgiven for reverting to type. Instead, he embraced an almost industrial aesthetic, sufficiently awe-inspiring to reassure customers and just decorative enough not to scare them away. Unexpectedly, it is an extruded, refined version of Jenkins and Marr’s 1929 Commercial Bank in Aberdeen, given a gutsy Glaswegian twist.
Owen Williams had previously designed the Express headquarters in London. The Glasgow building followed this example. Giant concrete cantilevers provided covered access for the trucks that delivered the raw paper and collected the finished product. Above the very functional ground floor, the whole of the building’s façade was metal-framed ribbon glazing, a sheer striated surface of black Vitrolite concealing floor levels, with clear glazing to flood the building’s floors with light. This is a work of glamorous modernity, a veritable cathedral to the newspaper.
This infill block was a revelation. Inspired by continental modernism, although the frontage at Bread Street is narrow, the plan was deep with the wedge-shaped entrance drawing visitors past a lavish display of the goods that were available within. Similarly bold was the giant sign stretched across the whole façade. Above the entrance, a patterned wall of glass on a widely-spaced structural frame “hung” clear of the structural concrete beams and floorplates behind. There had never been a bolder retail building in Edinburgh.
On approaching the church, it is the giant brick screen of the entrance, flanked by two curved lower wings - on one side the baptistery, on the other enclosing the main staircase - that first impresses. The overall effect is very much of its era, and not entirely dissimilar to some contemporary cinema architecture. The nave benefits from the full-height drama of the expressed structural frame. Light from the high clerestory windows bathes the interior. Light also floods from the side windows onto the elegant, marble altarpiece.
This building, very Scandinavian in its inspiration, was not unlike contemporary airport buildings, complete with its glazed “conning tower” - in fact, a highly visible testing bay for the product that was manufactured within. The Luma factory is a simple, three-storey, concrete structure with large glazing to draw in as much daylight as possible. Starkly plain, it was a very cost-effective solution. From the very outset, this elegantly plain, white-style, modernist building served as both factory and advertisement.
The building Thomas Smith Tait designed for Regent Road is powerful and monumental. Two long wings extend from a square central block, each terminated by elegant, flat-topped, stair towers. The influences on this building are many, Art Deco, German modernism, the Dutch architect, W. M. Dudok, Raymond Hood’s New York giant Rockefeller complex, even Frank Lloyd Wright. Irrespective of its architectural parentage, this is an impressively elegant building, a celebration of Scots internationalism, creativity and nationhood.
The Cosmo was the “art” cinema in George Singleton’s extensive Glasgow chain. Glasgow’s appetite for films in the 1930s was voracious, and the fact that the Cosmo was special was recognised from the outset. It has retained its place in the affections of Glaswegians. The design is made up of linear, long-stepped masses emphasised by long strips of faience (glazed terracotta) culminating in the stepped tower, rising above the entrance. The cinema’s international focus was originally demonstrated by the great globe in the foyer.
Very little about this building suggests its age. A concrete rotunda, faced in yellow brick, its form enabling maximum supervision with minimum staff, is set back within a generous site. The reading stations are set on a radial layout with the central enquiries desk at the hub. Hughes and Waugh created a building of rigid symmetry. The arch within the full-height, rectangular porch straddles a curving staircase. Vertical strip windows rise through the two-storey height of the building, regularly spaced around its circumference.
St Mary’s is an extraordinarily plain, supremely refined building. Although built in the local granite, as was the norm in the city, this is as modern as anything anywhere in Scotland at the time. The tower entrance, nave and the connecting church hall, are a crisp composition of simple, abutted geometric forms. Internally, the building is every bit as geometric and austere as its external form would suggest. White painted, with elegant blonde wooden pews and furnishings, the whole seems little altered from its 1930s origins.
The exterior is a great, buttressed, granite box. Once inside, the visitor was welcomed by blonde wood linings and shiny metal detailing. Right up to the Second World War, Art Deco continued to declare glamour and international sophistication. At the Bon Accord Baths, the Deco style says, quite unequivocally, that nothing was too ritzy for the good citizens of Aberdeen. In the pool area the reinforced concrete roof structure followed on from continental industrial buildings of the 1910s. This building is one of Aberdeen’s great hidden gems.
The Timex Factory typifies the factory design often employed on the post Second World War Scottish industrial estates. Long, low, flat-roofed and very simple it is predominantly yellow stock brick with the red sandstone entrance asymmetrically positioned at the east end. The windows form a continuous band, running off into the tree belt. The successful appearance of the Timex Factory owes much to its setting where it slices across the top of a gentle hill.
Two storeys of red brick with large steel framed windows, New Taybank Mill, one of only two jute mills purpose-built in the twentieth century, could have been a bright but basic factory. Its details elevate it to a rather late Art Deco flower. The stacked porthole windows, faience (glazed terracotta) details and angled corner entrance with its floating, fluted and fluid columns suggest arrival at something more glamorous than the concrete-framed, steel-trussed jute mill that lay within.
Glasgow’s architectural heritage was enriched by the eighteenth century tobacco merchants’ homes and warehouses. The Wills Tobacco Factory is a twentieth century tobacco industry equivalent, a monumental quadrangle of red brick with contrasting stone details around the windows and doors. The central entrance tower on Alexandra Parade, illuminated with three long vertical windows, contrasts with the four storeys of horizontal window bands on either side. The wings are book-ended by stair pavilions with cigarette slim windows. The building’s style speaks of an earlier decade.
The District General Hospital in the Vale of Leven was the first complete new-build hospital in Britain following the Second World War. The building programme required the possibility of expansion and the two-storey ward units were built to a modular pre-cast concrete system that permitted the addition of an extra floor. The concrete mullions separated glazing and panels of red cedar wood which follow an irregular pattern within the overall regular rhythm of the frame.
The modernist details of this post-war municipal housing development are found in the skinny iron railings, large windows and projecting concrete balconies, while tradition continued with ground floor stores with forestairs, giving access to dwellings above, and the use of the distinctive, soft local red sandstone, clay pantiles and slate. The informal groupings also provided the enclosure required for fishermen to dry and repair their nets, resulting in the picturesque qualities tourists expect of fishing villages.
The Natural Philosophy building extension was a landmark in Scottish architecture, the link between the pre-war and post-war approaches to modernism. The basement is clad in traditionally finished Northumberland sandstone while the upper floors are clad in white Portland stone: tradition supporting the white heat of modernity. The flat roofs were finished in copper and the windows large and aluminium framed. The interior was just as striking. The mono-beamed staircase is a particularly sculptural feature and Spence’s office designed all the details.
Sighthill Health Centre was the first of its kind, a ground-breaking combination of health services around a welcoming courtyard plan. Three sides of the courtyard are single storey, beneath very shallow pitched roofs. The windows form a continuous band above a brick base which is interrupted by three, timber-clad, window bays. The highlight of the north elevation is a large glazed window, the full height of the building, which reveals an incredibly elegant, concrete spiral staircase with a ‘Z’-shaped step profile.
Construction began in May 1939 but was halted by the outbreak of the Second World War. Building re-started in 1946 to an amended design. The pre-war design focussed on long, two storey blocks around a courtyard with a light Art Deco spirit about the clock tower. The amended, post-war, plans retained the layout but the school hall developed a boldly splayed plan – a nod to the Festival of Britain style - resulting in a striking building situated on a prominent hilltop.
The National Library of Scotland was constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1925. Construction began in 1937, only to be halted by the outbreak of war. A steel frame clad in fireproof concrete supports seven floors of library stacks below ground level with two airy floors above ground level. Clad in Blaxter stone, Fairlie himself described it as ‘frigid serenity’. A host of contemporary artists contributed to the external reliefs. The interior has a cinematic imperial staircase with a glass window etched with thistles and crowns.
Fronting a paved town square along its entire length, the principal west façade is three storeys high, the walls ashlar-faced, the regularly spaced windows tiered in neo-classical manner, the roof flat behind a corniced parapet. Decorative detail is minimal. Steps rise at the entrance to a single-storey, flat, copper-roofed porch above and behind which, framed in plain pilasters and cornice, tripartite glazing lights the two upper floors. Rising from the roof, a thin belfry steeple and weather vane is clearly derived from Scandinavian precedent.
The first and still one of the finest of a series of post-Second World War churches which the architects designed for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. From the shorter west wall, where the church is entered through a baptistery vestibule, the side walls splay outwards. A tower capped with a slated monopitch roof and a cross rises over the sanctuary. The glazing of the tower and the west entrance wall is irregularly patterned in timber framing of thin verticals and broad horizontals.
Built for the textile designer Bernat Klein, this remarkable residence is located on a rise in woodland. Two parallel, partially overlapping, oblongs contain the accommodation. The white-painted timber structure is flat-roofed with some areas left open to the sky. Wall panels of timber lining, rubble stone, sliding windows, variegated glass and fabrics designed by Klein define internal and external spaces. A sunken living space is set slightly below and open to the studio. Here, a fireplace rises at the very heart of the plan.
Built within a limited budget on a relatively confined suburban site, this small but remarkably spacious home has a deceptively simple plan shaped by two interpenetrating flat-roofed rectangles. The high-walled boundary, built in rubble stone, provides shelter and privacy and is subtly articulated to set up formal relationships between the garden landscape and the house. Compact yet permeated by the rectilinear interplay of internal and external space defined by roof and wall planes, this house has a distinctly American flavour.
On an elevated site, approached diagonally from the north on a slow path stepping up the hillside, this chaste house makes a stunning architectural impact through the simplest of solid geometries. A timber-framed rectangular box, glazed to the north and south, advances slightly over a long white-rendered wall concealing the ground-floor accommodation. The whole conception has an austere elegance influenced by the American architect, Philip Johnson. The asceticism of the building’s geometry and its exquisite relationship to the landscape, hint too at Japanese influence.
Some of the best of Scotland’s New Town residential developments were in Cumbernauld. Neighbourhoods of medium density, low-rise, housing were grouped, in carefully landscaped clusters, around the town’s megastructural hill-top hub. Housing at Seafar, to the north of the centre, on falling ground overlooking the Campsie Fells, was the second such neighbourhood to be built. At Seafar 1, two-storey terraces with monopitch roofs were constructed, while at Seafar 2, the terraces, some of which were on split-level to exploit the slope of the site, were flat-roofed.
A modestly-sized small-town spectator stand seating 750 people which, through the mutually beneficial and creative collaboration of architect and engineer, occasions unexpected delight. In cross section, two cast-concrete wedge-shaped forms – raked seating terrace and cantilevered canopy – seem to hinge precariously on a thin vertical edge. At once sophisticated in form and rugged in finish, the stand’s pronounced sculptural quality, coupled with its use of off-the-shutter boarded concrete, exemplifies a modelled textural approach to architectural design.
One of the earliest high-rise non-residential buildings to be constructed in Glasgow and one of the most accomplished in Scotland, this multi-storey tower exploits its hillside site to dominate George Square to the south. Six bays of raw concrete pilotis (free standing columns or stilts) carry a reinforced concrete frame 13 storeys high. The subtly canted wall planes of the north and south elevations are hung with curtain-wall glazing incorporating black vitrolite panels. On the roof strong sculptural shapes are set against the skyline.
Essentially a high rectangular box, the public face of this church is austere but internal dignity and delight is generated by the imaginative modelling of light and shade. The flat steel-framed roof with its splayed fascia appears to float over a continuous clerestory. Natural lighting to the brick diaphragm walls on each side of the nave is ingeniously contrived. At the west end of the gallery a raking rooflight falls over the baptistery. The raised sanctuary is flooded with light from the south.
The direct borrowing of Corbusian features - the domed roughcast meeting cells, the light cannons, the orchestrated vertical rhythms of the window mullions and the rough pebble finish to the precast surrounds of the novices’ sleeping cells - all pay homage to the master. A bold megastructure housed all of the functions of the seminary in a single block, exploiting the opportunities for heightening the scale of the building on this gently sloping site and, increasing the drama of the internal collegiate spaces.
This was the first post-war, purpose-designed, architecture school building to be erected in the UK. The design is uncompromisingly of its time. The floor plans and elevations were derived directly from the spatial needs of the individual student, manifested in the form and height of the well-proportioned projecting bays to the studios at the first and second floor levels. Overall, the palette of materials is restrained. When built, it commanded the Rottenrow ridge where it still sits comfortably.
Setting the building in a clearing deep within the established woodland of the site allowed Spence to create a dignified, extended route for the bereaved. While this echoed the stunning achievement of Gunnar Asplund at the Woodland Cemetery at Stockholm, in many other respects the design has a timeless, Nordic appeal. Materials are restrained, and are exquisitely detailed. Externally, the walls glisten from the reflection of light from the calcined flint aggregate masonry blocks, contrasting with the woodwork in a warm red cedar colour.
Reputedly the world’s first building to be specifically designed for the transplantation of human organs, the plan is organised in three parts disposed on differing levels. Barrel-vaulted beams carry deep concrete parapets. The sculptural quality of the building is further accentuated by the setting of some window and duct openings. Overall, this forceful formal expression of services and structure is intensified by the choice of material. The result is one of Scotland’s most robust essays in brutalist architecture.
Campbell seized the opportunity, on this hilltop site, of creating a building which, more than any other in East Kilbride, holds out the prospect of a futuristic vision from living in one of Scotland’s new towns. The soaring 324ft parabolic arch is the tour de force of the bold composition, with the forces transmitted to the ground by bifurcated struts at a dauntingly shallow angle. So remarkable was Buchanan Campbell’s achievement, it attracted professional visitations from home and abroad during construction.
It is a pity that the halls of residence at St Andrew’s University is Glasgow born James Stirling’s only built work in Scotland. Stirling’s architectural approach was innovative, iconoclastic and often controversial, but it was always highly influential. He was commissioned to design a masterplan for the site, set beyond the historic burgh on ground falling away below a cliff-top walk. The projecting window bays of the rooms are angled to take advantage of the seaward views. Unfortunately only one of the four planned units was built.
Occupying a narrow corner plot on Glasgow’s premier shopping street, and erected as offices and a showroom for the corporate airline giant BOAC, this commercial project reinterprets the traditional nineteenth century street frontages of the neighbouring properties in a modern idiom. Each of the elements of the composition is articulated from the others, consisting of a plinth, incorporating the showroom windows at street level; the superstructure of three regular storeys of offices; and above that, a floating band replacing the traditional cornice to cap the elevation.
On the principal elevation the uninterrupted floor and roof plates, clad in white precast concrete and aluminium respectively, are satisfyingly counterpoised with the tall flue. The very large footprint and bulk of the building are disguised by the disposition of the elements of the brief, using the slope on the site to considerable advantage. Once entered, the building has an unexpectedly complex spatial quality. The clean lines of the poolside areas are achieved through an integrated approach to architecture and engineering.
The principal studio space was divided into four zones, consisting of a service core, a studio for painting, a meeting space and textile showroom, and an area for relaxation and informal discussion. Positioned with considerable care within a mature woodland setting, the main studio floor was placed at first floor, with the stair tower continuing upwards to a roof terrace. The bridge allows the studio to be approached and experienced in an entirely unforgettable way with the breathtaking views.
Woodside was the last of the Comprehensive Development Areas to be designated to solve Glasgow’s acute post-war housing problems. Two eight-storey slab blocks were designed, linked by a five-storey block incorporating communal areas for drying and services. Externally, the blocks are uncompromising, with the stairs and lifts at the outer extremities of the blocks, set within separate towers with flying bridge links to the access decks. The architecture is assured and the brickwork is beautifully detailed throughout, giving the blocks a monolithic appearance.
The success of the masterplan for a new university at Stirling lay in the integration of the new teaching, residential and administration buildings with the landscape and woodland. As the first building to be completed, the Pathfoot preceded the Royal Commonwealth Pool, but the design ethos is essentially the same shared direct architectural language of long horizontal planes of precast concrete with a distinctive white aggregate, contrasting with the topography of the site. Between the built spurs are lawns where the sun can be soaked up and the views enjoyed.
Built as a civic centre for performing arts, the theatre was designed to accommodate concerts, opera, ballet, drama, conferences, dances and film. An important public commission, the complex represents an early attempt to design boldly but sympathetically within an historic setting. The 800-seater auditorium with its thrust stage is on a traditional horseshoe plan with cantilevered circle and upper circle. With its sparkling, crystalline forms, the theatre is, almost literally, the jewel in the crown of Inverness’s heritage.
The subtly contextual massing of the Scottish Amicable building played down its size and presence – its apparent bulk – on one of Glasgow’s most prestigious commercial streets. The materials used speak of the blue chip, corporate modernism of the sixties and seventies: gold-tinted glass, polished granite, an expression of expensive solidity and durability, sleek and beautifully engineered. The Scottish Amicable Building is well worthy of its St Vincent Street setting among some of Glasgow’s most dynamic historic commercial and ecclesiastical buildings.
The new Church of St John Ogilvie was boldly conceived and very much a landscape ‘event’ designed to play an architectural part in defining place and community. The building compresses a very Scottish ecclesiastical complex of church, hall and presbytery into a single composition, responding as much to Presbyterian as to Catholic prototypes. Internally, the use of directed light on and through everyday building materials, together with the artfully pegged roof structure, underscores the simple ‘worshipful’ ambience of the space.
The Cummins factory was, in theory, no more than a linked procession of big sheds. The answer to the monotony that such a process risked creating was provided through a brilliant amalgam of self-conscious modernist references, along with up-to-date pace-setting. Inside, the factory was clean, humane, and planned well to suit the business of producing diesel engines but also of taking care of the highly-skilled workforce who had been extensively consulted as part of the design process – architecture bringing joy to industry.
Carefully crafted into its landscape setting, recessive and unassuming, constructed from brown brick on the entrance façade that fades into its landscape surroundings, this is a building with two faces. Inside, a cantilevered glazed foyer overlooks the banks of the River Tummel and the town of Pitlochry. Seen from the town, the glazed symmetry of the original composition has something of the Scottish country house about it. It is an undoubtedly beautiful, unexpectedly light and airy theatre complex that responds to its pure Highland setting.
The Burrell Collection is an outstanding, bespoke museum of international importance. The parkland setting is a key part of the architectural concept. The project was won in architectural competition in 1971. Paradoxically, the design stood out because of its non-rhetorical, low-lying integration with the landscape, a design feature that suggests Scandinavian precedents. The design was also a cultural bridgehead – an early example of an ‘iconic’ building that would spearhead Glasgow’s amazing cultural revival during the 1980s and beyond.
The heart of the Merchant City is an entire city block. The square is inverted, with its ‘inhabited wall’ to the street and two inner courtyards – a carefully articulated ‘block within a block’. Most of the surviving historic warehouses were converted to flats with some shops, but selected buildings in the block were taken down and replaced with architecture clearly postmodern in inspiration. The celebrated corner block on Wilson Street remains a model of intervention in an historic setting: bold and gutsy.
The much admired, multi-award winning Caley House was designed by Roan Rutherford of the Corporation for the YMCA/YWCA. The building provides housing and communal facilities for sixty young single people in accommodation ranging from one to four person flats, set out under a unifying, wide slate roof, incorporating engaged ‘conservatory’ spaces. The complex responds to a vernacular context of materials, form and street pattern. The gridded fenestration picks up, perhaps, on a postmodern Scottish revived interest in Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The wonderful boutique hotel and restaurant, ‘Babbity Bowster’ takes its name from an old Scottish country dance. An eighteenth century building, a run-down relic of a half-completed urban design scheme by the Adam brothers, was rescued by one of a new breed of urban conservationists. The architect and his inspired surveyor sought preservation by intervention – in this case, the entire top floor and pediment of the building were reinstated. The intervention had its roots in can-do ‘conservation by occupation’.
The Grianan Building was to be the first structure on the site of what was then a new park and was a speculative office construction. It was originally hoped that the original Grianan (Gaelic for ‘sunny place’) cottage could be incorporated. However that was just not feasible. Instead, inspiration was taken from the stonework and the interaction between inside and outside spaces. The design in essence, is four squares within a square. The squares are connected through a two storey, glass, reception lobby.
The module of the bookshelves to be housed, 900mm, dictated the floor panels, window panes and internal partitions. This stylish design has an entirely functional purpose; routing as many services as possible around the exterior of the building, to leave the interior to focus on its task - chiefly, housing and storing Scotland’s map collection, of around two million items. The design is bold and unapologetic. The square glazing and steel structure make quite the impact on this main approach from the south.
The enticing ziggurat design of stepped layers, emerging from the hillside, certainly makes an impression. The vast structure houses not only offices but also an integrated sports complex and a staff hostel. Delicate internal details include rosewood panelling in the boardroom, a tapestry in the foyer, batik panels and a ceramic wall, featuring the names of select employees. The lengthy gestation of this new, out-of-town, headquarters complex is testament, to the exacting care and deliberation exercised over this bold concrete and glass edifice.
Carrick Quay was one of the most significant inner-city speculative developments in the UK. The area around the former Glasgow Fishmarket (now regenerated as the Briggait Artists’ Studios) was very run down. This development was an important forerunner to major riverside redevelopment. From the entrance ‘gangplanks’ leading from the street to the lobby areas, to the guardrailed balconies with timber decking attached to each south facing flat, maritime references are to the fore. An iconic riverfront ‘ocean liner’ of 93 flats and penthouses.
A mix of old and new, with a strong artistic element and Italian flair, this residential/retail/office development has become one of the most popular developments of its type. The developer Classical House Ltd., took the bold move of selective demolition of warehouse buildings and the retention of key, tenemental stone facades. This allowed the creation of an internal courtyard and a fronting little ‘piazza’, on John Street, both beautifully executed. An early precedent for Glasgow’s new ‘urban village’ lifestyle - a place to live, shop, work, eat and have fun.
Historic buildings handled in a modern way, without resorting to pastiche. The original stone façade on Market Street was improved by the complete removal of one section of the elevation, at both ground and first floor levels, allowing both improved access and daylight penetration. Internally a very simple layout centres upon an industrial steel staircase that can be lifted to facilitate large installations. The most striking improvement however, was the floating winged roof.
This innovative wedge plan design is a positive response to its unusual plot. The triangular form sees the hypotenuse run parallel to the main road and the shortest side of the building run up against its second boundary. What perhaps makes this structure stand out from the crowd, is that it addresses the location as opposed to trying to ignore it. The extensive use of windows on all three façades, unashamedly declares its presence, whilst generating a light and airy interior.
Clad in stone, but otherwise crisp and contemporary, this building’s exterior is raised well above the ordinary by its sculptural detailing. This cranked up level of decoration is warranted in the context of the stripped down modernism of the building itself and the simple traditional aesthetic of the buildings on either side, including the only slightly older Italian Centre. There is a glass canopy over the ground floor walkway giving shelter to visitors. While this detail and the shutters are contemporary, the rest of the applied detailing is more classical.
Completed in 1995, this building filled the last gap in Ingram Square. A difficult gap site to design for, the hotel cleverly bonds the disjointed street roofline from south to north with a giant ‘Z’ step in stone. This in turn is over-arched by a curved copper-clad timber roof, creating a striking double-height rooftop apartment within. Exposed steel supports at the edges of the building add a transparency to the eight-storey, three-bay structure. A welcome addition to the Merchant City conservation area.
‘The Green’, gleefully creates a gateway from the public parkland opposite to the more secluded heart of the housing masterplan. A seven-storey block responds to the street and screens a lower block to the rear. The street façade is capped with penthouse flats including an individual, cranked and cantilevered box acting as a hinge to the corner. This is underscored by an elegant ‘skydeck’ bridge which connects to the upper storeys of its neighbouring block. This unorthodox housing scheme offers a bold urban concept.
Using the natural slope of this herringbone vennel, the building comprises well-considered basement, ground and mezzanine floors that splendidly exploit the section to compose a variety of spaces that delineate their uses. The palette of materials is robust yet warm, with glazed brick to the base with glass and oak infill panels to the principal façade. This is a marvellously composed and understated gem, an uplifting place where poetry thrives.
Galleries, workshops, conference rooms and a restaurant all occupy the original shell. To connect these spaces a new ‘battery pack’ extension was built accommodating toilets and vertical circulation with spill-out and small exhibition spaces. This extension sports a bold copper-clad concrete, curved wall, peeled back to reveal a generous entrance lobby and define an external balcony above. The Lighthouse has become one of the institutions of Scotland, and has cleverly given new purpose to a handsome building by way of an alluring, complementary addition.
Behind its sandstone street façade, the existing shell gives way to humble materials and structuring: cast iron columns and transverse beams support timber roof trusses and walls of clay brick segregate the spaces beneath. Zoo Architects consolidated this fabric whilst inserting new elements to bring life to the building and its purpose. The architects have achieved a fine balance between old and new components, whilst articulating a harmonious dialogue between both. Tramway sets a benchmark for the quirky adaptive re-use of an existing post-industrial building.
This horizontally articulated building initially suggests a modest rural barn. The narration of the collection is via a descending ramp, which coils inwards around halls, galleries and exhibition spaces. This offers glimpses to the outside world through generous splayed openings on its edges. The finale of this journey is revealed at the base of the ramp, with views to the farmscape beyond, framed by the building’s exposed structure. This is Scotland’s vernacular transformed into a bold, modern and quietly confident architecture.
Tasked with designing a ticket office, gallery, audio-visual facilities, toilets and a restaurant the architects responded with a bold offering. The selected site utilises the slope of a hill, pragmatically serving access requirements but also forming a threshold from car park to the ordered grounds of the house. At ground level a perpendicular approach route intersects the building, where the landscaping gives way to a moat, marking the threshold each visitor must pass. It is brave architecture.
This bold insertion deals with a challenging programme on a constrained site with considerable skill. To the north a five-storey fully glazed block of 25 classrooms is terminated on its end by a daring system of hung concrete panels. Distinctive diagonal incisions give these façades a degree of delicacy whilst communicating internal life to the adjacent streetscapes. The fastidious attention to detail is exemplary. The Clavius Building provides its pupils and teachers with truly outstanding learning and teaching spaces.
This centre was developed to deliver an interconnected composition of landscape and built form and sought to ‘blur boundaries between internal and external spaces, enclosure and openness.’ The centre sits between two spiral mounds within the landscape, creating a trilogy of linked forms, with the building’s angled walls clad in striking green copper. The interior space flows and connects into the garden, the sharing of shape and pattern blurring the edges.
This building takes an organic form, fitting unobtrusively into the Botanic Gardens. It has no obvious ‘front’ or ‘back’ since it is intended to be approached from different directions and levels. The extensive use of timber gives the visitor a powerful feeling of ‘connection’ with nature, enhanced by the glass walls that reduce visual barriers. The timber Glulam roof, the most dramatic element within a series of superbly composed built forms, is set on pencil-thin steel columns – the most slender that the engineering of the building would allow.
The re-working of the early twentieth century red sandstone Co-operative Halls in Shettleston, allied with a new extension providing additional reception, meeting and office spaces (plus an envy-inducing roof terrace for the staff), unites two very different built forms. The concrete-finned extension is a dramatically contemporary response to the older building that successfully integrates with its historic neighbour. The modern elevation, extending beyond its volume to match its historic neighbour, adds to the aura of ‘prestige’ of this important development.
The Houl, an elegant, single-storey family home is also ‘net zero carbon’, utilising a range of traditional and modern sustainable construction techniques to achieve its zero carbon credentials. The building’s steel-framed structure is broken up with walls clad in cedar weatherboarding (now silvery-grey) and topped with a seamed zinc roof, cantilevered on all sides to create additional shelter. Within, a functional yet beautiful, red room divider provides a splash of colour.
The striking architecture of the new chapel, with its glass walls and ‘green’ roof, connects it directly with the natural environment of its garden setting. The link between architecture and nature continues in the interior, with timber slats and four, tree-like, Corten steel supporting columns, two internal, two external, which draw the natural setting into the building. The chapel makes a bold and beautiful statement in the rear garden of a townhouse within one of Edinburgh’s most historic squares.
The concept was to rebuild the historic blackhouse in traditional style, adding two extensions modelled on agricultural sheds referencing but certainly not mimicking the local vernacular. The result is a living-house, guesthouse and inter-linking utility wing (particularly useful for cleaning the exposed island’s omnipresent sand from shoes). The materials used contrast soft with hard, curved with angular and include stone, corrugated fibre-cement and steel. The stylish interiors feature much use of timber.
The building is designed to blend seamlessly into the landscape at the northernmost tip of Skye with minimal visual impact. Its turf roof acts almost as camouflage and the larch cladding on the exterior is already beginning to bleach and turn silver with time, again helping the building to blend into its environment. Inside, the home is essentially a single volume with an open plan kitchen/living room and a gallery bedroom platform above. The bathroom, services and main bedroom are ingeniously tucked in below this mezzanine.
Maggie’s centres provide a different kind of care. Set in domestic scaled buildings and neither house nor hospital, the plans of the Maggie’s centres tend to revolve around the kitchen table. The domestic scale is reinforced by a palette of warm materials, including much national timber. The development is punctuated with a series of courtyards, outdoor seating areas, and a spring that animates the entrance with the sound of running water. In the inner courtyards (open to the sky) are gold-stained ‘sun-catchers’.
Public sector housing has changed dramatically over recent decades. This large scale, deservedly award-winning, public housing development learns lessons from the past fifty years. Delivered as the first phase of the masterplan for Laurieston, the project is a collection of 200 properties, including townhouses and flats, all following in Glasgow’s long tradition of tenemental homes. The project was praised by the RIAS as an exemplar of successful place-making and “a triumphant piece of urban regeneration.”