Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing 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.


Status: Designated


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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

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 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.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but 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. 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 advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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