15, 15B AND 15C DALKEITH ROAD, SCOTTISH WIDOWS FUND AND LIFE ASSURANCE SOCIETY HEAD OFFICE, INCLUDING LANDSCAPING, MOAT AND BOUNDARY WALLS (Ref:50213)
This building is in the Edinburgh Council and the
It is a category A building and was listed on 03/03/2006.
Group Items: N/A,
Group Cat: N/A,
Map Ref: NT 2674 7253.
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. 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 feature ceiling of hexagonal prisms. Basement accommodates car parking, storage, coffee lounge and kitchens. Front service core contains entrance hall and has revolving door of glass and steel. 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 stone boundary wall to W and S with triangular coping. N boundary contained by metal fence.
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. The building is nevertheless almost completely intact. In the service cores, wall finishings, flooring and doors are mostly original, as is the curved desk in the reception area (June 2004).
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).
© Crown copyright, Historic Scotland. All rights reserved. Mapping information derived from Ordnance Survey digital mapping products under Licence No. 100017509 2012 . Data extracted from Scottish Ministers' Statutory List on . Listing applies equally to the whole building or structure at the address set out in bold at the top of the list entry. This includes both the exterior and the interior, whether or not they are mentioned in the 'Information Supplementary to the Statutory List'. Listed building consent is required for all internal and external works affecting the character of the building. The local planning authority is responsible for determining where listed building consent will be required and can also advise on issues of extent or "curtilage" of the listing, which may cover items remote from the main subject of the listing such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. or interior fixtures. All category C(S) listings were revised to category C on 3rd September 2012. This was a non-statutory change. All enquiries relating to proposed works to a listed building or its setting should be addressed to the local planning authority in the first instance. All other enquiries should be addressed to: Listing & Designed Landscapes Team, Historic Scotland, Room G.51, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EDINBURGH, EH9 1SH. Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8701 / 8705. Fax: +44 (0)131 668 8765. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/historicandlistedbuildings.