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
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26530 73837
326530, 673837


Basil Spence, Glover and Ferguson, 1961-69 (see Notes). Group of boldly designed residential and commercial blocks combining geometric forms with traditional references and materials, prominently situated on adjacent sites on the N side of Canongate with further block to Brown's Close. All three blocks characterised by an informal arrangement of monopitch roofs, harled and rubble facings, variety of horizontal and vertical windows, slightly projecting segmental-arched canopies to ground floor and cubic concrete balconies to side and rear elevations.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: PRINCIPAL (S) ELEVATIONS: both blocks: 4-storey, roughly 10-bay with shops to ground. Ground floor punctured by openings with round columns supporting segemental-arched canopies leading through to courtyard at rear. Monopitched, harled sections divided by narrower, squared and snecked rubble-clad sections. Some corner windows with wide concrete mullions. Segmental-arched balconies to E elevations.

Integral external concrete stairwell to far E linked by railing sections to each floor balcony to rear of Nos 65-71. Further 4-storey, 4-bay block (No 3 Brown's Close) defining E-side of rear courtyard, linked to Nos 65-71 at ground floor level. Rear courtyard with landscaping and earlier cast-iron drinking fountain.

Statement of Special Interest

Basil Spence's Canongate development is an important example of Scottish Post-War housing occupying a critical and historically sensitive location on the N side of the Canongate. The three relatively externally unaltered blocks (comprising 30 dwellings with shops and a public house to ground floor) share the same unified themes, employed in a variety of ways to achieve a sense of rythym and movement across the length of the site. Like Spence's other housing schemes in Scotland (see below), the Canongate Flats utilise contemporary modernist approaches and are part contextual (attempting to harmonise with their older neighbours) and part confrontational (striving to be regarded on their own terms). The use of rubble cladding, the suggestion of a castellated parapet at the corner 'towers' and the narrow slit-windows piercing the slab-like walls all appear to reference the vernacular tradition of the defensive towerhouse. Conversely, the buildings utilise some of the iconic design elements from his Gorbals tower blocks of the previous year including projecting concrete balconies articulating the side elevations. The punctured openings to the ground floor frame the earler 17th and 18th century buildings behind. This is particularly notable where the two main blocks separate, framing the Canongate Manse (see separate listing)which is set back from the road behind its own courtyard.

Sir Basil Spence was one of Scotland's most accomplished and prolific 20th century architects. His extensive canon of national and international commissions have received a critical re-appraisal in recent years. Some of his most renowned works include Coventry Cathedral and the British Embassy in Rome. Comparable housing schemes by Spence in Scotland include Nos 1-19 New Lane, Newhaven, Edinburgh and Nos14-20 Lower Burnmouth in Berwickshire (see separate listings).



Brian Edwards, Basil Spence 1907-1976 (1995) p85-6. John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p215. Brian Edwards, Basil Spence ' Visions In Light (2002) - RIAS Exhibition Guide). Philip Long and Jane Thomas, Editors, 'Basil Spence - Architect' book accompanying exhibition 'Back To The Future: Sir Basil Spence 1907-1976' (2007), p90-91.

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.

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