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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 03/03/2006


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGR: NT 26745 72537
  • Coordinates: 326745, 672537


Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson, 1972-76 (John Hardie Glover and John Legge, partners-in-charge charge; Norman Arthur, project architect; Dame Sylvia Crowe, landscape architect; structural engineers, Ove Arup & Partners). Office building in modern Expressionist style comprising series of interlocking hexagonal prisms varying in height from 1 to 4 storeys. Reinforced concrete construction. Series of recessed and projecting elevations and continuous curtain wall of brown solar glass in metal-frames. Pilotis partially support the block to SW with bridge access to principal (W) and rear entrances. The entrance, on W and to staff restaurant to E of steel-framed clear glass. Car parking spaces under pilotis on lower ground to the S and double height car park concealed beneath landscape terraces and sunken garden area to E. The basement service area to the N has metal shutters.

Double-skinned glazing, with brown solar glass to exterior and venetian blinds in the cavity. Mullions of manganese bronze, base courses of riven York stone, and pilotis of exposed concrete. Shallow pitched roofs covered in zinc.

INTERIOR: primarily open-plan office accommodation arranged around 2 hexagonal service cores containing lifts, stairs, lavatories and individual offices. In sub-basement plant, goods yard and double-height split-level staff restaurant, with feature ceiling of hexagonal prisms. Basement accommodates car parking, storage, coffee lounge and kitchens. Front service core contains entrance hall and has revolving door of glass and steel. Floors of entrance hall and lift halls are paved in stone and walls of staircase clad in riven York stone. Balustrades and handrails are of steel.

LANDSCAPING: extensive planting of trees, shrubs and lawns to N and S featuring decorative rocks and boulders. Sunken gardens and ascending terraces to E concealing car park building with rocks and plants.

MOAT: surrounding building to S and W. Lined with large pebbles, a feature repeated in the interior.

BOUNDARY WALL: battered, riven stone boundary wall to W and S with triangular coping. N boundary contained by metal fence.

Statement of Special Interest

A major achievement of international status for Sir Basil Spence, Glover and Ferguson, its importance acknowledged in the professional press and recognised in 1977 when the building received the RIBA Award for Scotland. This building is an expressionistic response to Salisbury Crags married to a Functionalist programme. Geological analogies in the allusions to geometric structure of crystals inform plan, structural grid and massing. Height restrictions and consideration of views both to and from the hills and cliffs of the Royal Park necessitated a thoughtful treatment. Thus a careful use of high quality materials, concealed car park, and extensive planting and landscaping, for which the practice brought in Dame Sylvia Crowe, the leading landscape architect of the period. The office space was described as 'landscaped', with plants and stones chosen to complement those of the gardens. The depth of the floors demanded maximum fenestration, and solar glass was required to protect the inhabitants from heat and glare.

The building stands partly in a pool, on the W and S sides, designed to reflect the elevations. This device was used in some of Spence's keynote buildings, most notably at the University of Sussex and the British Embassy in Rome. The reception area and stairs are also enlivened by a play on the reflective qualities of water and mirrored surfaces.

The interiors have undergone a few changes, mainly to the individual office spaces. Most of the ceilings have been replaced and the floors of the main spaces raised to accommodate cabling. The open-plan offices originally relied upon screens and filing cabinets finished in light oak, with furniture to match for flexible division of work-space. Most of these have now been replaced. The building is nevertheless almost completely intact. In the service cores, wall finishings, flooring and doors are mostly original, as is the curved desk in the reception area (June 2004).



J Gifford, C McWilliam, D Walker, BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND: EDINBURGH (1991) p640. C McKean, D Walker, RIAS GUIDE: EDINBURGH (1982) p107. P Willis, NEW ARCHITECTURE IN SCOTLAND (1977) pp60-61. ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL REVIEW (1979) pp159-167. ARUP JOURNAL Vol 12 No 4 (December 1977) pp28-31. BUILDING DESIGN 2 Feb. 1973 p.24. BUILDING DESIGN (30 March 1973) p1. BAUEN UND WOHNEN Vol 33 No 3 (March 1978) pp104-105. CONCRETE QUARTERLY no. 116 (January-March 1978) pp8-11. Edinburgh Dean of Guild Court records (24/11/72).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 25/10/2016 18:19