Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26745 72537
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 (no longer operational). 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 building opening dedication incised within stone faced walling and feature ceiling of hexagonal prisms (obscurred by lowered ceiling). Basement accommodates car parking, storage, coffee lounge and kitchens. Front service core contains entrance hall and has revolving door of glass and steel. Separate stair with mirrored enclosure fomerly accessed first floor panelled board rom (relocated to third floor in 2014). 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 York stone boundary wall to W (Holyrood Park Roard) and S (Dalkeith Road) 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, including the curved desk formerly in the reception area.

The building is nevertheless almost completely intact. In the service cores, wall finishings, flooring and doors are mostly original (June 2004).

Listed building record updated in 2019 to reflect some minor later changes to the interior.



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 Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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