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

Phase I Block, Victoria Hospital, excluding all later additions and other buildings on the hospital site, except for the Phase II Block (Tower and Podium) to the south (LB52537), Hayfield Road, KirkcaldyLB52536

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
Kirkcaldy And Dysart
NT 28004 93156
328004, 693156


The Phase I Block is a modular three-storey general hospital building with a basement and a canopied roof terrace. Built between 1956 and 1958 and designed by the Architect's Department of the South East Regional Hospital Board, it was part of the first phase of the post-war expansion scheme for Victoria Hospital. Located in Kirkcaldy, towards the north end of the hospital site, the main (north) elevation is set back from Hayfield Road. The wider hospital site is multi-phased with the majority of buildings dating from the mid 20th century to the early 21st century.

The Phase I Block is T-shaped in plan, with a single-storey central L-plan wing projecting from the north elevation. The concrete-framed structure is faced in buff brick with large sections of metal-framed curtain walling to the two upper storeys (replacement to south elevation of east wing and renovated to the west elevation of the south wing) with blue panels below the windows. Parts of the lower floors are recessed, and the piers of the exposed concrete frame create colonnaded sections. A pair of intersecting square-plan blocks project from the end of the west wing, one of which has a rubblestone panel inset on its west elevation. The north wing has been infilled to the centre of the east elevation by a later extension that is excluded from the listing, and full-height, brick infill panels have been added to the north ends of the east and west elevations of the south wing.

The roofs are flat with later steel railings to the perimeter. There are some plant-related structures and a pair of projecting blocks to the south of the west wing that break through the eaves. Photovoltaic panels have recently been added to the roof of the north wing. A thin concrete canopy spans the roof of the eastern wing, which is carried on slender concrete piers and curved walling to the east. The window openings throughout have thin concrete cills and plain surrounds. There is large multi-paned full-height glazing to the stairs, generally positioned at the end of each wing. Regularly spaced, the windows are largely metal-framed (some late-20th century replacements) and the door openings have cantilevered canopies. There is an external, cantilevered concrete stair to the northeast corner with vertical metal railings.

The interior was seen in 2019. There have been incremental changes to the internal fabric and layout, including some subdivision of spaces. Accessed from the north elevation, the main entrance hall is located at the junction of T-plan and provides access to each wing. The wings contain different departments/wards on each floor and are laid out with rooms on either side of a central corridor. The end of each wing is terminated by a set of stairs. The entrance hall has exposed brick walls and a large cantilevered concrete stair with metal balusters. The interior fixtures and fittings are standard for a hospital building and are a mix of mid to later 20th century fabric. The original floor and ceiling finishes have been replaced and the balustrades of the main staircase have been sheeted over.

There are various late-20th and early 21st century additions, most of which are concentrated on the south elevations of the east and west wings, and to the south wing.

Legal exclusions

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing:

all later additions and other buildings on the hospital site (except for the Phase II Block, LB52537: see case 300040518).

Later additions to the Phase I Block include the full height brick tower and single-storey extension to the east elevation of the east wing, the brick infill extension to the centre of the east elevation of the north wing and the full-height blue-clad extension to the east elevation of the south wing. Other additions include the two abutting the south elevation of the east wing, the two single-storey extensions to the west elevation of the south wing and the early 21st century link corridor to the southwest corner of the south wing.

With the exception of the adjoining Phase II Block (Tower and Podium), the later additions to the Phase I Block and the other buildings on the hospital site are not considered to be of special interest in listing terms. Some buildings, such as the Phase III Block and the Maggie's Centre are less than 30 years old and are not eligible for listing at this time (2020).

Historical development

The history and phased development of the Victoria Hospital site were concurrent with national developments in the provision of healthcare in the 20th century.

Built between 1956 and 1958, the Phase I Block formed part of the first phase in the major redevelopment and expansion of Victoria Hospital in the mid 20th century. The masterplan for the wider site was conceived and laid out in the early 1950s by the Architect's Department of the South East Regional Hospital Board, under Chief Architect John Holt and project architect Eric D. Davidson.

Prior to redevelopment, the southern part of the present site was occupied by an Infectious Diseases Hospital. This was built in 1897 by Campbell, Douglas and Morrison and in 1908 a Sanatorium was added (Historic Hospitals, Fife). These earlier buildings are shown on the Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1943, 1947).

The Phase I Block was part of a £675,000 development scheme that also included the construction of a new nurse's home (Hayfield House), kitchens and a boiler house. The Phase I Block is first shown (partially) on the National Grid map of 1959 (surveyed 1958). The remainder is shown on the National Grid map of 1967 (surveyed 1966), along with the Phase II buildings, including the tower and podium to the south.

In the early 1950s, it was initially intended that a new general hospital was to be built at the Fever Hospital at Cameron Bridge, Windygates, Fife (Builder 1952, p. 892). However, this was later changed, and Victoria Hospital was instead selected (Fife Hospitals).

The initial plans for the second stage in the expansion of the site were laid out in the mid 1950s, however the Phase II works were not built until 1962-67. With an estimated cost of £2.25m, the works were initially due to for completion in 1965 but the construction process was delayed by the discovery of coal mining shafts on the site. Combined with the first phase of works, they transformed Victoria Hospital into a District General Hospital for the whole of the East Fife region, and also provided central sterilising and laboratory services to serve the whole county.

It was noted in Hospital Planning, Management and Equipment (Vol. 28, 1965, p. 442) that the building employed the extensive use of modern communications systems, which served to reduce travel distances and improve speed and efficiency, particularly with regard to administration procedures. These features included as a pneumatic tube system, high speed elevators, and central dictation and audio frequency staff location systems.

As shown on the National Grid map (published 1967), the Phase II Block abutted to the southwest corner of the Phase I Block and was also linked to the south elevation by the (current) glazed corridor. It was noted in 1967 (The Hospital and Health Services Review Vol. 63, p. 326) that the eastern side of the podium, where the accident and emergency department was then located, had a flyover approach ramp from the road providing emergency vehicular access. This flyover no longer exists and was removed by the early 21st century.

Throughout the later 20th century and early 21st century, various additions and extensions have been added to the exterior of the Phase I Block. These are all excluded from the listing.

In addition to the main Phase II Block (LB52537: see Annex B) the other buildings in the Phase II works included a laboratory, incinerator house, laundry block and extended dining and administrative accommodation (Hospital Planning, Management and Equipment Vol. 28, 1965, p. 442). Many of these buildings from the Phase I and Phase II works remain on site (2020), however they are excluded from the listing.

Some of the earlier hospital buildings from the 19th and early 20th century survived on the site, up until the Phase III redevelopment of the site, which took place around 2010. Only one is now thought to survive (2020) to the south of the site but this has been substantially altered and extended and is excluded from the listing.

The Whyteman's Brae development to the north of Hayfield Road was initially laid out as part of the 1950s masterplan and the plans were approved in 1973. Constructed between 1980-83, the complex was purpose-built for the care of the elderly and the mentally ill (Historic Hospitals, Fife). Whyteman's Brae is excluded from the listing.

Statement of Special Interest

In our current state of knowledge the Phase I Block, Victoria Hospital, meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

  • The Phase I Block is a good, representative example of a new type of centralised hospital building that was established in the 1950s.
  • The design quality reflects the Modernist ethos of hospital architecture that emerged in the early post-war period.
  • The concrete roof canopy and open sun deck are unusual within the context of Scotland, reflecting the roof terraces and sun decks of some European models of the inter-war period.
  • The setting has been partially altered by later development, however the Phase I Block retains a setting that is connected to its group interest. It is a key part of a wider hospital site that shows a continuity and consistency in terms of its phased design.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: all later additions and other buildings on the hospital site (except for the Phase II Block, LB52537: see case 300040518).

Architectural interest


Built between 1956-58, the Phase I Block was the principal building in the initial phase of the transformation works for Victoria Hospital. Executed in the Modernist style using non-traditional building materials and methods, the block is representative of the new type of hospital building for the early post-war period.

The formation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948 led to a huge expansion in hospital building in the 30 years that followed. Prior to this, Scotland had already begun to experiment with a modernist approach to hospital architecture with schemes such as Ayrshire Central Hospital (LB35452) and Hawkhead Hospital (LB39010). This became more widespread after the Second World War, whereby Modernism in architecture sought to directly equate with improvements in health-care. The new philosophies in hospital design were based on science, function and open-ended planning. They rejected needless historicist architectural adornments. A crucial change was that planning shifted away from the use of isolated pavilions as a way of controlling the spread of infection, towards the American precedent of highly serviced, compact blocks that were further subdivided into smaller and more private rooms.

The Vale of Leven Hospital (1952-55) by Keppie, Henderson and Gleave, was the first new-build post-war hospital to be completed in Britain following the formation of the NHS. Its linear, low-density and dispersed plan form retained elements of the pavilion plan, however it introduced systematic building to hospital design and incorporated identical pre-fabricated blocks for each department.

The modular, low-level design of the Phase I Block shares design characteristics with Vale of Leven and other contemporary examples such as the Radiotherapeutic Institute, Western General, Edinburgh (1952-54). It is built using modern materials and methods that include reinforced concrete, aluminium and glazed curtain walling. Although its application is minimal, the aesthetic use of rubble facing was a particularly Scottish interpretation of modernism for public buildings of this date. Its use stemmed from the innovative modern designs of Basil Spence and William Kinninmonth's practices in the 1940s and 50s.

Reflecting the emerging ethos of hospital architecture, the design of the Phase I Block rejects traditional notions of hierarchy and symmetry and is devoid of any decorative architectural features. The overall form and appearance, which is horizontal with long expanses of continuous glazing, is instead based on logical planning and function, reflecting the new scientific-based approach to medical care.

The retention of the open roof garden or sun deck and the concrete roof canopy adds to the special interest of the building. The provision of outdoor or well-ventilated, sunlit-spaces had been a common feature of Scottish hospitals, particularly during the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. Largely intended to treat tuberculosis patients and for heliotherapy (sunlight treatment), they generally took the form of verandas or balconies, such as those at Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh. The use of an open deck or garden on the roof was based on earlier European models of the inter-war period, such as the Municipal Hospital in Basel (1945) and Paimio Sanatorium, Finland (1929-33). While such a feature was not uncommon in England, their application in Scotland was unusual.

As a general hospital building, the Phase I Block was designed to accommodate a number of different departments, including surgical units, patient wards and administration. Governed by the Modernist philosophy of form being dictated by function, the plan form is laid out with rooms on either side of central linear corridors. This stemmed from the layouts that were formulated by the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust in about 1951, and in particular the experimental ward that was built at Larkfield Hospital in Greenock (1955, now demolished). This 'Nuffield' arrangement was based on the earlier 'Rigs' style (from the Rigs Hospital in Copenhagen), comprising small ward units on one side and service rooms on the other. In British hospitals at this time, the traditional 'Nightingale' ward was more prevalent, however those derived from the 'Rigs' style, were also popular during the 1950s as they were found to be more efficient and effective (Francis et al, p. 18). There is no particular innovation in the plan form of the Phase I Block, however it represents an early adoption of the ideas formulated by the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust in the early 1950s.

The interior decorative scheme, fixtures and fittings are sparse and functional in nature. This is typical for a hospital building of the early post-war period, as is the combination of some original fabric with later 20th century replacements. The entrance hall and the cantilevered main stair is the key feature of the interior. The open and well-lit nature of the space reflects the desire for a bright, functional and hygienic environment, while the palette of materials of exposed brick, metal and concrete continue the use of those from the exterior.

The Phase I Block has been subject to some incremental alterations and insertions of replacement fabric over the years, however the plan form, materials and overall appearance and Modernist character are all well-retained which add to the design interest.

The wider context of the site is also of interest in design terms as although the transformation of the site was completed in various stages, it did adhere to an overall masterplan and design consistency. The contrast between the Phase I Block and the Phase II Block demonstrates the evolution of Modernism in post-war Scotland but also illustrates the rapid pace of developments in hospital design from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s.

John Holt was Chief Architect of the South East Regional Hospital Board's Architects Department and was responsible for overseeing many new and innovative health-related buildings, including the Radiotherapeutic Institute at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital (1952-54) and the pioneering health centres at Sighthill, Edinburgh (1951-53) and Stranraer (1954-55). Eric D. Davidson was the project architect in charge of masterminding the extensions at Victoria Hospital. Although early in his career, it is noted (Dictionary of Scottish Architects) that Holt gave Davidson little guidance on the project. The design of Victoria Hospital is therefore thought to be the work of Davidson, who went on to be an influential figure in hospital design, being appointed as Assistant Director and Chief Architect in the newly formed Scottish Health Service Building Division in 1974.


Located towards the northern end of a purpose-built hospital site and largely surrounded by hospital car parking, the Phase I Block is interlinked to the south by the Phase II Block, LB52537 (1962-67) and the later Phase III Block (2009-12). Set back from Hayfield Road, the Phase I Block is prominent in views from Hayfield Road to the north and the entrance road to the east. The setting has been somewhat affected by the later development of the site but this is common to large 20th century hospital campuses. It is partially obscured by other hospital buildings, primarily the Laboratory Block to the north and by the large-scale Phase II and Phase III blocks to the south and southwest.

The Victoria Hospital site was extended and almost entirely redeveloped from a former Infectious Diseases Hospital into a General District Hospital in the 1950s and 1960s. Since this time, it has been subject to further phased changes and additions. Despite the phased approach, which took decades to complete, the design consistency of the masterplan is reflected in the architectural continuity evident in many of the buildings on the hospital site. This level of planning and concern for a high-quality architecture across a large site of this nature, is of interest in design terms.

Currently (2020), the majority of buildings date from the Phase I and Phase II redevelopment scheme of the 1950s and 1960s. They include various ancillary buildings that front Dunniker Road, and the former Nurse's Home (Hayfield House) and the Laboratory Block. These buildings do not meet the criteria for listing, however they do form part of the post-war masterplan for the whole site. They provide an important functional and contextual setting for the main hospital buildings and show how the phased expansion of the site was designed in a consistent manner.

This ethos of design excellence was continued in the Maggie's Centre (2006), located just to the south of the Phase II Block, which was designed by the world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

Hospital buildings are not a rare building type and can be found across Scotland.

The earliest example of a new hospital to be built following the formation of the NHS in 1948, was the Vale of Leven Hospital in Dunbartonshire (1952-55). Other examples from this period include the Operating Theatre Block (1954-58) by Basil Spence & Partners and the Neurosurgical Department (1954), both at Western General, Edinburgh.

Built between 1956 and 1958, the Phase I Block of Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy may not be the first example of its type, but it was among the first phase of hospital buildings to be constructed in this newly emerging style.

Following a period of experimentation in the 1950s, immediately following the inception of the NHS, the multi-storey approach to hospital planning, with centralised services and smaller wards on a 'racetrack' plan, was pioneered by Gillespie Kidd and Coia at Bellshill Maternity Hospital in 1959-62 (demolished). As the need for larger hospitals grew, this multi-storey type was further developed and soon superseded the low-level campus-style of hospital design and were rolled out across the country in the 1960s and 70s.

As a result of their success, the majority of hospital designs during the early decades of NHS expansion, broadly followed the multi-storey template. Those that pre-date the dominance of the multi-storey block are therefore less common and, in Scotland, only a small number were ever built. Many of these early examples have been lost or substantially altered or extended, so those that survive largely unaltered may be of interest in listing terms.

The Phase I Block has had replacement fabric inserted and alterations to its layout, as well as extensions added and changes to its setting. However, this is typical for a working hospital building and when compared with other surviving examples from the period, it has remained substantially unaltered and retains much of its architectural character.

The inclusion of a canopied roof terrace on the Phase I Block is a late example of this feature however it is very unusual in the context of Scottish hospitals, of any date. Changes in the treatment of tuberculosis and the decreasing length of inpatient stay meant that by the mid 1950s, sunlight was declining as a form of therapeutic treatment. As a result, balconies, solaria and other related features were no longer a primary consideration and quickly disappeared from the design of post-war hospitals (Hughes, p. 32). As a rare surviving example, it is of special interest under this heading.

The Phase I Block is of special interest as a notable example of the new type of hospital building that emerged during the early post-war period and the founding of the NHS.

Social historical interest

All hospital buildings will have a degree of social historical interest, however the Phase I Block, along with the masterplan for the wider hospital site, are of particular interest under this heading. As an early example of general post-war hospital building, it reflects the substantial social and economic changes that occurred in mid-20th century Britain following the introduction of the Welfare State, as the provision of suitable hospital buildings became a principal concern. These changing attitudes in medical treatment and patient care occurred against a backdrop of social infrastructural change which also saw nationwide improvements in housing, schools and transportation networks.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.



Canmore: CANMORE ID 350069 and 94174


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1943, 1947) Fifeshire XXXV.8 (Kirkcaldy and Dysart) 25 inches to the mile. 2nd and later Editions. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1958, published 1959) NT2893SW - C (includes: Kirkcaldy And Dysart) National Grid Maps. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1966, published 1967) NT2793SE - B (includes: Kirkcaldy And Dysart) National Grid Maps. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.


Photographic copies of floor and site plans for Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy from the Atkins, W.S. Collection, Ref: C 79524 – C 79541 (c.1955 – c.1970) Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Printed Sources

Hospitals at Home and Abroad, in British Medical Journal, (September 1960) pp. 1-12.

British Medical Journal, (18 June 1960), p. 1903.

British Medical Journal, (3 February 1962), p. 331.

British Medical Journal, (12 November 1966), p. 1195.

British Medical Journal Vol. 288, (21 January 1984).

Builder, (12 December 1952), p. 892.

Builder, (22 February 1957), pp. 362-64.

Builder, (12 December 1958), p. 1062.

Builder, (10 August 1962), p. 308.

Fife Free Press and Kirkcaldy Guardian, (12 February 1955), p.8.

Fife Free Press and Kirkcaldy Guardian, (28 May 1955), p.7.

Fife Advertiser, (27 October 1956), p.8.

Glendinning, M (ed.) (1997) Rebuilding Scotland: The Post-War Vision 1945-75, East Linton: Tuckwell Press Ltd. p. 28.

Historic Scotland (2009) Scotland: Building for the Future, Essays on the architecture of the post-war era, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, pp. 6, 29-32.

Hospital and Health Services Review Vol. 63, (1967), p. 326.

Hospital Health and Management Vol. 24, (1961), p. 27.

Hospital Management, Planning and Equipment Vol. 27, (1964), pp. 883-86, 960.

Hospital Planning, Management and Equipment Vol. 28, (1965), p. 442.

Hughes, J. The "Matchbox on a Muffin": The Design of Hospitals in the Early NHS, in Medical History Vol.44 (2000), pp. 21-56.

Richardson, H and MacInnes, R. (2010) Building Up Our Health: the architecture of Scotland's historic hospitals, Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, pp. 97-98, 108-111.

Richardson, H and Stell, G. Health and Welfare, in Scottish Life and Society: Scotland's Buildings, A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology, Vol. 3, (2003) East Lothian: Tuckwell Press, pp. 314-15.

Online Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Victoria Hospital [accessed 25/09/2019].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Home for the Nurses of Kirkcaldy General Hospital [accessed 25/09/2019].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Victoria Hospital, Nurses' Home [accessed 25/09/2019].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, John Holt [accessed 25/09/2019].

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Eric Dalgleish Davidson [accessed 25/09/2019].

Fife Hospitals (2017) [accessed 25/09/2019].

Francis, S. Glanville, R. Noble, A. and Scher, P. (1999) 50 Years of Ideas in Health Care Buildings, London: Nuffield Trust, p.18. [accessed 25/09/2019].

Historic Hospitals: An Architectural Gazetteer, Fife [accessed 25/09/2019].

Historic Hospitals: Victoria Hospital, Fife [accessed 26/02/2020].

Nazarian, M. (2019) Hospital Nursing Staff Productivity - the role of layout and people circulation, Doctoral Thesis: Loughborough University, pp. 73-76, 104-106. [accessed 26/09/2019].

About Listed Buildings

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Phase I Block, principal (north) elevation, looking southwest, during daytime, on cloudy day with white sky
Detail and roof canopy of Phase I Block, looking south, during daytime, on clear day with blue sky

Printed: 30/05/2024 10:46