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

64 PRINCES STREET, BRITISH HOME STORESLB51249

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
B
Date Added
26/11/2008
Local Authority
Edinburgh
Planning Authority
Edinburgh
Burgh
Edinburgh
NGR
NT 25435 73932
Coordinates
325435, 673932

Description

Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, 1964-1968 (Kenneth Graham, partner-in-charge; A D Gracie, architect; Ove Arup, consultant engineers); Extended by RMJM, 1971/2 (Ian M T Samuel). 4-storey and basement, rectangular plan, Modernist purpose-built retail store premises. 2nd floor enclosed walkway over Rose Street South Lane connecting 1971 extension facing Rose Street. Service entrances to Rose Street Lane South. Smooth York stone; copper cladding; anodised aluminium framing.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: York stone facing to full-height blank stair towers flanking central section: extensive glazing to ground floor entrance deeply recessed beneath projecting blue-black Bon Accord polished granite fascia, with incised 'BRITISH HOME STORES' lettering; fascia forming 1st floor 'Panel Building' walkway with extensive glazing; 2nd and 3rd floors expressed by projecting white polished Creetown granite faced box in anodised aluminium curtain walling, with vertical panels punctuated with vertical windows at regular intervals; 4th floor recessed above with extensive copper cladding and horizontal glazing. Extensive square-plan copper clad roof sloping inward to central square roof-top terraced garden; continuous timber-framed glazing facing into to terrace; clerestory windows facing exterior. 2-storey, rectangular plan block to rear.

INTERIOR: open plan floor plates supported by 6 large circular shuttered concrete pillars towards middle plan; main circulation to centre of N end of plan, escalators flanking wide stairs to basement, tubular steel handrails, and glazed panelled balusters, original terrazzo treads covered by later marble tiling. Return flight of stairs leading to 1st floor removed (see Notes). Moulded concrete ceiling in honeycomb pattern to 2nd floor stock rooms. Extensive tiling to floors and walls to 3rd floor (former food preparation and storage areas). Deep timber-clad beams and ceiling expressing inward sloping pitched roof construction; open-plan common room with original floor and wall coverings and some original light fittings to E of plan; meeting rooms and offices to N and W of plan, all in Scandinavian style. Plywood panelled and narrow gauge metal handrail circulation stairs to SW of plan.

Statement of Special Interest

This purpose-built store for the multiples retailer British Homes Stores was designed as the first flagship store of the chain in Scotland and presents bespoke 1960s modern design for the latest development in retailing. Much thought has been given to the integration of the entire plan (including the rooftop) and interiors and the sensitivity of the materials of exterior as the building was meant to be viewed not only as integral component of the existing streetscape but also from many vantage points in the city centre, including Edinburgh Castle.

The site was considered strategically important in the 1960s and planning controls enforced by the local authority also contributed to the 1st floor walkway formula that was planned but not executed for the entire unification of the street façade. The principal design concept was to provide sales space uninterrupted by the minimum number of columns and the integration where possible of structure and services. A key feature of the architects' design for the store was the insertion of the main circulation stair and escalators at the centre of the plan which previously in such premises would have been located at the periphery and is still an unusual arrangement in shops where floor retail floor space is at a premium. Although it is known that BHS did not favour this arrangement it was allowed at the architects' insistence and not only provided a design statement, it also provided the customer with a full view of the store during circulation. The original stair to the 1st floor was removed early on as it was thought to block through views from the entrance to the rear.

During the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s a number of multiples built stores to individual specification and some took the opportunity to develop sites in a singular style. Standard planning restraints applied by the City of Edinburgh did not prevent RMJM and Partners from providing BHS with a high specification store for a highly important retailing site. After the mid-70s, retailers opted for shell buildings and architecture became a less important part of their marketing. The BHS store in Princes Street is an unusually excellent example of chain store architecture, using high quality materials and careful layout, produced during a decade in which less inspiring designs are the norm throughout the United Kingdom.

The building was designed by the pre-eminent architectural practice of Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners who were a prolific and internationally recognised by 1966 having undertaken important commissions for example, for universities in Scotland, England and Ireland, hospitals and power stations. RMJM also designed BHS's premises in Aberdeen a few years later.

The Edinburgh store is one of the first of the proposed 'panel buildings' planned as part of the comprehensive redevelopment of Princes Street, originating in the Abercrombie plan of 1949. No detailed plans for the redevelopment of the shopping thoroughfare existed in 1966 and the design of the BHS store could therefore be considered the forerunner of subsequent post-war insertions into the long stretch of shops, offices and hotels. (7 buildings were constructed as part of the Princes Street Panel, only 1 other is listed - the Edinburgh New Club by Alan Reiach, Eric Hall and Partners, 1966). Along with its attention to detail and the additional design of the roofscape, the BHS building is one of the best examples of the panel formula.

The original timber panelling and horizontal lighting scheme were removed from the shop floors in the early 2000s.

List description updated 2012.

References

Bibliography

Building (18 July 1969), pp. 79-84; Building Industries (January 1968), pp. 26-28; H Petzsh, Architecture in Scotland (1971); K Morrison, English Shops and Shopping (2003); RMJM practice archive (2008); Original drawings in collection of the National Monuments Record of Scotland (2008). Additional information courtesy of Kenneth Graham (2008).

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 www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 26/02/2024 18:35