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Building for Education: The School Designs of Sir Basil Spence

Building for Education: The School Designs of Sir Basil Spence Sarah Walford Sir Basil Urwin Spence O.M., R.A., began his architectural career in Edinburgh in 1931 and was still designing at his untimely death in 1976. Throughout his life he maintained a strong link with Scotland and remained true to the ethos of his training at Edinburgh College of Art, namely that the practice of architecture was essentially an art and a craft. Never easily pigeon-holed, Spence’s oeuvre was eclectic. In turns traditional and innovative, theatrical and intimate, his works always displayed his concerns for artistry, materials, craftsmanship, texture and colour. Best known for prestige projects such as Coventry Cathedral, the Rome Embassy and Sussex University, Spence’s school designs, which formed a small, but significant, part of his output during the 1950s, are largely overlooked. This paper explores his particular architectural approach through the wide ranging styles of the eight schools designed in his Edinburgh and London offices. ‘Buildings that are well designed and equipped and beautifully decorated will exercise their potent, but unspoken influence on those who use them from day to day. This is true education.’ (Henry Morris) In 1936, the Scottish Committee of the Council for Art and Industry (C.A.I.) selected the young Edinburgh architect http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Architectural Heritage Edinburgh University Press

Building for Education: The School Designs of Sir Basil Spence

Architectural Heritage , Volume 22 (1): 137 – Nov 1, 2011

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, 2011
Subject
Historical Studies
ISSN
1350-7524
eISSN
1755-1641
DOI
10.3366/arch.2011.0022
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Sarah Walford Sir Basil Urwin Spence O.M., R.A., began his architectural career in Edinburgh in 1931 and was still designing at his untimely death in 1976. Throughout his life he maintained a strong link with Scotland and remained true to the ethos of his training at Edinburgh College of Art, namely that the practice of architecture was essentially an art and a craft. Never easily pigeon-holed, Spence’s oeuvre was eclectic. In turns traditional and innovative, theatrical and intimate, his works always displayed his concerns for artistry, materials, craftsmanship, texture and colour. Best known for prestige projects such as Coventry Cathedral, the Rome Embassy and Sussex University, Spence’s school designs, which formed a small, but significant, part of his output during the 1950s, are largely overlooked. This paper explores his particular architectural approach through the wide ranging styles of the eight schools designed in his Edinburgh and London offices. ‘Buildings that are well designed and equipped and beautifully decorated will exercise their potent, but unspoken influence on those who use them from day to day. This is true education.’ (Henry Morris) In 1936, the Scottish Committee of the Council for Art and Industry (C.A.I.) selected the young Edinburgh architect

Journal

Architectural HeritageEdinburgh University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2011

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