Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair 2018

AHSS was represented at the Dumfries and Galloway Environment Fair for the first time this year.

Held at University of Glasgow, Rutherford-McCowan, Crichton Campus, Dumfries on 10th March.

Participation by the Society had these four aims –

  1. Representing the built environment at an event otherwise devoted to the natural environment.
  2. Raising the profile of the AHSS as a local and national organisation.
  3. Interacting with visitors in an enjoyable way to encourage them to pay more attention to the historic built environment.
  4. Increasing membership of the AHSS and a greater interest in and attendance at the society’s events.

The Fair ran from 10-3.30 and is estimated to have been attended by 400+ people, with probably about 250 children and young people. The AHSS display was attended by 100+ of these.

As well as advertising the Society’s work and events it was a requirement of the Fair that every participating organisation should have an interactive element. The AHSS contributed this aspect by concentrating on a display of the variety of Scottish housing on display boards. Visitors were offered a choice of four envelopes, each containing pictures of four houses. Visitors were asked to place them in chronological order and then on a time line. They were encouraged to talk about them. They were then directed to the static display and asked to choose which two, of the many on show, were not Scottish. This done they were encouraged to design a house of their own, using the materials provided. They were encouraged to talk about building types, favourite buildings etc.

The interactive display worked well, catching the visitors’ attention and holding them for up to 20 minutes. The drawing, cutting and pasting was popular with more than the children and resulted in about 30 interesting pictures to add to the display boards. The youngest visitor was 6 months, the oldest 80+. All appeared to enjoy participating and there were very few who showed no interest though it was important to approach them directly to catch their attention.

A quick evaluation against the four stated aims was undertaken.

  1. It appeared that the AHSS was the only organisation representing the non-natural environment and thus made an important contribution which was commented on by both visitors and organisers.
  2. Reasonably effective at this within the limits of 100+ people. It was noticeable however that people chose to be more directly interested in local problems such as The Cruck Cottage and its recent fire.
  3. Successful at this with clear enjoyment and involvement shown by both children and their parents with both students and older people also showing interest.
  4. Probably of limited value. Some 3-6 people showed interest in joining and a few more in the events programme. This included several students at the University of Glasgow.

The question as to whether it is worth another go next year is answered by

‘probably’, but it would need more people to help with the display and a wider and more challenging range of activities to hold the interest of the older age groups. AHSS participation at the Environment Fair 2018 can be considered a successful first try. It demonstrates, however, just how much effort is required for a modest return and that the Fair as a whole enjoys a higher benefit ratio than the individual participating organisations. Another time it will be worth demonstrating more sustainability and the embedded energy which old buildings have which is wasted if they do not continue in use.


Dundee Lecture TONIGHT

Andrew Wright will speak on the history of Clackmannanshire Estates

Tonight’s Dundee Conservation Lecture will be going ahead as planned, do please plan your travel route carefully if you are coming from areas still affected by snow.

We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information, please view the event page here


Year of Young People 2018

Scotland’s young people will be celebrated at events and activities throughout the year.

The AHSS is delighted to support the Year of Young People 2018, which ‘aims to inspire Scotland through its young people, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contribution to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally’.

Events and activities are being organised by groups all over Scotland and focus on six themes:

  • Participation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives
  • Education – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning
  • Health and Wellbeing –supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience
  • Equality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.
  • Enterprise and Regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live
  • Culture –celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.

The Forth & Borders Group would like to welcome young people to attend upcoming lectures at no charge. These include talks on William Adam and formal landscape design in Scotland and the collapse of Holyrood Abbey Church in 1768.

You can learn more about the Year of Young People 2018 here.


The Autumn 2017 AHSS Magazine

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland is delighted to announce that the latest issue of our magazine is now available.


This stunning front cover heralds the 200th anniversary of the birth of iconic Glasgow architect, Alexander Greek Thompson. We have teamed up with The Alexander Greek Thompson Society to bring you not only a fascinating feature piece on the architect’s contribution to the Greek Revival movement in Glasgow, but also a tear out walking tour of his finest projects. Not to be missed!

A word from our Editor Abigail Daly:
‘Glancing at this issue’s features, you wouldn’t imagine there was much linking them. Glasgow’s Greek-inspired architecture, James Craig and his Edinburgh New Town plans, tower blocks and industrial Ironbridge seem quite disparate. Reading them more closely, however, and some common themes emerge: each were created in a time of significant cultural, social and technological change, and each were architectural expressions of great optimism and hope for the future.’

Become a member today to receive your free copy!


The Autumn 2017 AHSS Magazine

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland is delighted to announce that the latest issue of our magazine

This stunning front cover heralds the 200th anniversary of the birth of iconic Glasgow architect, Alexander Greek Thompson. We have teamed up with The Alexander Greek Thompson Society to bring you not only a fascinating feature piece on the architect’s contribution to the Greek Revival movement in Glasgow, but also a tear out walking tour of his finest projects. Not to be missed!

A word from our Editor Abigail Daly:
‘Glancing at this issue’s features, you wouldn’t imagine there was much linking them. Glasgow’s Greek-inspired architecture, James Craig and his Edinburgh New Town plans, tower blocks and industrial Ironbridge seem quite disparate. Reading them more closely, however, and some common themes emerge: each were created in a time of significant cultural, social and technological change, and each were architectural expressions of great optimism and hope for the future.’

Become a member today to receive your free copy!


National Study Tour 2018

Continuing our exploration of Scotland, our renowned Study Tour will next visit Galloway!

This event is now fully booked.

The AHSS 2018 Spring Study Tour will be to the south west of Scotland, exploring the built heritage of Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire. We will be ‘on tour’, starting in Edinburgh with a pick-up in Glasgow and based near Gatehouse of Fleet, and then Stranraer. We will be accommodated in style, staying in the celebrated Cally Palace Hotel, begun in 1763 by Robert Mylne as the country house of the Murrays; it has substantial and important landscaped gardens. Then to its sister, the North West Castle Hotel, the 1820s former townhouse of Sir John Ross (he discovered the ‘North West Passage’) which is on the shores of Loch Ryan. Both hotels have excellent facilities including gyms and swimming pools.

The tour will be led by Simon Green and Adam Swan and administered by Caroline McFarlane.

Galloway is scenic, remote from the central belt, and with a heritage reflecting Anglian, Norse and Irish influences. From the 12th century Cistercian abbeys of Dundrennan and Glenluce there are castles, tower houses, parish churches, laird’s houses, Victorian mansions, farm steadings, mills, tollbooths, lighthouses and a whole variety of towns and villages steeped in history and character. As well as Gatehouse and the port of Stranraer to explore, there are the county towns of Wigtown, Scotland’s book town and the picturesque artists’ town of Kirkcudbright, as featured in Dorothy Sayers’ Five Red Herrings, and includes EA Hornel’s home and studio (previously the town house of the Murrays), and Jessie M King and EA Taylor’s house. Galloway was also the setting for much of John Buchan’s The Thirty Nine Steps. Elrig and Montreith have Gavin Maxwell associations. Villages such as Creetown, Whithorn, Newton Stewart, Minnigaff and Portpatrick also have much to offer. The Scots baronial mansion of Threave House, has remarkable teaching gardens, run by the National Trust for Scotland, and Castle Kennedy has an 18th century landscape restored by JC Loudon in 1841 and Logan Botanic Garden (RBGE), half way doen the Rhins of Galloway, has Scotland’s best collection of exotic plants; and not far off is Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum.

The Knockbrex estate near Borgue has an idiosyncratic range of Edwardian buildings provided by a Manchester textiles merchant. Old Place of Mochram has work by the later generation Arts & Crafts architects including Robert Weir Schultz and Ernest Gimson. In the 1930s the Galloway Hydro-Electric Scheme built a series of distinctive power stations, dams and associated structures, now sitting well in the landscape and looking very contemporary. (The above is to give a flavour of the area, and will not necessarily be included in the tour!).

The cost of the tour is £510 per person, based on two members sharing a room and will include visits, accommodation, transportation, meals and refreshments as provided. A limited number of single occupancy rooms will be available, subject to a supplement of £90. If you would like to note your interest in attending, please contact the national office using the form below.

Study Tour 2018 Booking Form


Winter Lecture Series Announced!

Forth & Borders Group publish their full winter programme of talks in Edinburgh

See below for the full list of talks and download our handy guide here.

Lectures take place at 6.30pm at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, 13 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PA
Admission: £5.00 (£2.50 students). Non-members welcome. Members may attend 6 lectures for £25.

Monday 2nd October 2017
ALISTAIR FAIR – Edinburgh’s Unbuilt ‘Opera House’, 1960 – 1975

Dr Alistair Fair is Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer in Architectural History, at the University of Edinburgh. He is a specialist in post-war architecture in Britain and has recently completed a book on post-war theatre building. This talk examines the infamous proposals of 1960 – 1975 for a major new theatre in central Edinburgh that were a regular fixture in the local press. Alistair looks at what went wrong.

Monday 6th November 2017
PATRICIA ANDREW – British architects, landscape designers and gardeners in Russia

Dr Patricia Andrew is an art and garden historian with a career in galleries and museums, and has also served on the Committee of the Garden History Society in Scotland. She specialises in Scottish artists at home and abroad from the 18th Century to the present day. This is a joint lecture with Scotland’s Garden and Landscape Heritage, focusing on the legacy of British (particularly Scottish) architects, garden designers and engineers in Russia.

Monday 4th December 2017
TOM PARNELL – Training the City: Built Heritage Legacy of a Railway Battle

Tom Parnell is an architectural historian, and is currently a Senior Casework Officer for Historic Environment Scotland. He has a personal interest in the built heritage legacy of railway development and re-development. His talk looks at railways in Edinburgh, particularly the dash for Leith in the later 19th Century, examining what might have been, what was lost and what legacy survives today.

Monday 5th February 2018
ELIZABETH DARLING – Heroines of the Canongate: Urban Reform in Edwardian Old Town

Dr Elizabeth Darling is Reader in Architectural History at Oxford Brookes University. Her work focuses on gender, space and reform in the 1890s – 1940s. Elizabeth offers us a different perspective on urban reform in the Old Town, highlighting the many women working around the same time as Patrick Geddes, and the change they effected in environments in and around the Canongate,

Monday 12th March 2018
LOUISA HUMM – William Adam and Formal Landscape Design in Scotland 1720 – 1745

A graduate of St. Andrew’s University, Louisa Humm works for Historic Environment Scotland- initially in their listing team and now as a Senior Casework Officer responsible for listed building consent work in Glasgow and other parts of South-West Scotland. Her lecture investigates how Adam’s garden designs related to contemporary and earlier fashions in Scotland and England. Featured estates include Newliston and Blair Crambeth.

Monday 9th April 2018
DIMITRIS THEODOSSOPOULOS – The Collapse of Holyrood Abbey Church in 1768

Dr Dimitris Theodossopoulos teaches conservation and architectural technology at the University of Edinburgh, and is also a civil engineer. He is particularly interested in the technical aspects of monuments and their preservation. His talk sheds light onto the collapse of Holyrood Abbey Church, following the puzzling substitution of decaying roof trusses with masonry walls in 1760.


61st Annual General Meeting

Hosted by Scotland’s new Building Conservation Centre, the Engine Shed, Stirling.

Join us on the 28th October 2017 for our 61st AGM and a chance to explore the new conservation headquarters of Historic Environment Scotland.

Welcome teas and coffees will be served at 11am, with the AGM beginning at 12pm. A sandwich lunch will follow at 1.30pm. Ian Walker, the clerk of works, will talk us through the project to restore and extend the Engine Shed building, whilst also explaining the future aims of the conservation centre, from 2.30-3.30pm.

The Engine Shed will be open to members of the public from 10am to 4pm, giving you time to explore the centre and watch the 3D video experience either before or after the AHSS activities.

Attendance at the AGM is free, please book your place for lunch at a cost of £12.

Download the booking form here.

Download the Agenda here.

Download the Minutes of the 60th AGM here.


RHS Update: Edinburgh Council Lease with DHP

Freedom of Information Request reveals heavily redacted documents

Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC), the AHSS is able to make available for viewing, the lease between CEC and Duddingston House Properties.

Unfortunately a large amount of the documents have been redacted, however, they still make for an interesting read.

The AHSS is committed to stopping inappropriate development of the former Royal High School, Edinburgh, and to that end wishes to make the general public as informed as possible as to the future of this A listed, publicly owned building.

Please click on the links below to read the following documents:

Pinsent Masons Document 1.1 Redacted. ‘Suspensive Conditions’

Pinsent Masons Document 1.2 Redacted. ‘Development Agreement’ and ‘Confidentiality’

Development Agreement 2.1 Redacted

Development Agreement 2.2 Redacted

Development Agreement 2.3 Redacted. ‘The Schedule’ and ‘Draft Contract Award Notice’

Draft Lease Redacted. Document 3.1

Draft Lease Redacted. Document 3.2

Draft Lease Redacted. Document 3.3

These documents have been separated into multiple downloads due to their large size, they are also available on the City of Edinburgh Council Website.




Royal High School Success!

Unanimous rejection of hotel proposal by City Councillors

The City of Edinburgh Council, Development Management Sub-Committee, met on the 31st August 2017 to review and decide on the second hotel application put forward by Duddingston House Properties (DHP), for the former Royal High School in Edinburgh.

The proceedings began at 10am with the report from the Council Planning Officers, who gave a full review as to how the proposals contravene a great number of planning policies. This was followed by excellent presentations from the Alison Johnstone MSP, Historic Environment Scotland, the local Community Council and Residents Association, the Cockburn Association, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, the AHSS and the three Ward Councillors. All of whom continued a persistent theme focusing on the unique importance of this building and its setting, and the inappropriateness of the height and scale of the design, ‘too much, for too little site’. In the afternoon, the Developers presented their case for granting permission, with a focus on the benefit to tourism that the hotel would bring. The day came to a swift end with Councillors unanimously damning the hotel proposal, describing it as ‘abhorrent and ugly’ and that the city would not forgive them if they allowed it to go ahead.

A good summary of all discussions can be read here.

Or you can access and watch the live recording here. 

Here is a timings guide to some key presentations:
0:16:55 Carla Parkes summarises proposal and report findings.
1:37:52 Steven Robb, HES
1:48:55 Adam Wilkinson, EWHT
1:57:00 Cliff Hague, The Cockburn Association
2:03:40 Alastair Disley, AHSS
3:30:45 David Orr, DHP and Rosewood Hotels
5:06:35 The debate and decision by Councillors

The AHSS were delighted to hear how often the general public were referred to throughout the day, the 3200 objections that had been made to the planning department, the numerous emails and letters that had been received by politicians and Councillors, all were taken note of and considered important. Councillors on the committee were exemplary and explored all elements of the economic benefit and heritage arguments before reaching their decision.

At the moment, it seems unlikely that the Royal High School is entirely safe from inappropriate development. The first hotel proposal is still at the Inquiry stage with Scottish Government Reporters and is sisted (paused) until 8th September. This may be withdrawn, or may continue. Our hope is that DHP and Rosewood hotels will realise that their hotel scheme is too large for this site and unless a significant number of bedrooms are dropped (perhaps 50% or more), no design will be appropriate for this iconic A listed building.
In the meantime, St Mary’s Music School waits in the wings with full (unanimous) planning permission.


Open Letter to the Lord Provost

Decision time for the second Royal High School hotel application – Thursday 31st August

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland in collaboration with the Cockburn Association, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust and the Scottish Civic Trust, have today submitted an open letter to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, urging that the application be refused.

Read the letter HERE


Scottish Govt. Places People Planning Review

AHSS National Conservation Committee complete and submit response to Scotland wide consultation

In June 2017, the Scottish Government published the Places, people and planning: Position Statement, which elicited responses from Built Environment Forum Scotland, its members and Historic Environment Scotland. The AHSS submitted a response on 11 August which found the proposals to be largely unhelpful to the historic fabric. It also expressed concern that economic development will take precedence over ‘the public good, the environment, both built and natural, and major issues such as climate change and the long-term sustainability of existing settlements not being considered’.

The submission from BEFS on 10 August found the proposals to be lacking overall and requests clarity on issues throughout. Highlighted areas of concern include the removal of supplementary planning guidance and the difficulty of increasing community participation while simplifying planning processes.

Additional responses can be found here.


Royal High School Update July 2017

Planning Committee date announced for second hotel application

Following the local elections in May, the City of Edinburgh Council have appointed a new Development Management Sub-Committee.

The committee will meet on the 31st August 2017 to consider the second hotel application from Duddingston House Properties and the Urbanist Group for the former Royal High School on Regent Terrace. Anyone is welcome to attend the proceedings which will start at 10.00am in the City Chambers on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Presentations will be made by the Council Planning Officer, followed by those opposed to the application including Historic Environment Scotland, the Residents Association, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, the Cockburn Association, and the AHSS. The presentations will then be completed by Duddingston House Properties’ representation.

The full report on both applications (Full planning permission and Listed Building Consent) from the Council’s Planning Officers has been published and is available to view HERE.

If you would like to help the campaign, please contact your local Councillor now with any concerns that you may have over the second hotel proposal. Visit our campaign page for helpful information on how to do this.If your Councillor is on the Committee, it is even more important that you get in touch, either via email or face-to-face. Any Councillor that is on the Committee is able to listen to your comments but will not make any comment in response.

The new Development Management Sub-Committee consists of the following Councillors:

Councillor Lewis Ritchie (Convenor)
Councillor Chas Booth
Councillor Ian Campbell
Councillor Maureen Child
Councillor Denis DixonCouncillor Ashley Graczyk
Councillor Joan Griffiths
Councillor Max Mitchell
Councillor Joanna Mowat
Councillor Hal Oslar
Councillor Alex Staniforth

For more information on this Committee please visit the Council website


Festival of Architecture 2017

Continuing to celebrate Architecture – AHSS with the RIAS

If you enjoyed the Festival of Architecture 2016, you’ll be delighted to learn that the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland are bringing the festival back for a second year! FoA2017 will take place across Scotland throughout the month of September and will be exploring the theme of ‘home’. It will join the Scottish Civic Trust’s Doors Open Day events in making this a fantastic month to celebrate architecture.

Exhibitions to look out for include 100 Best Scottish Homes and a return of the popular Adventures in Space.

“This National celebration of great architecture will transform Scotland’s relationship with its built environment. It will improve our appreciation and understanding. It will also be fun!”

David Dunbar, former President of the RIAS and now Chair of the Festival of Architecture 2017

Find out more at www.festivalofarchitecture.scot or see our events planned for September HERE.


Falkland Craft Symposium 2017

Programme announced for the second annual festival of built heritage craft skills in Fife

Welcome to the 2nd Falkland Craft Symposium

This event builds on the success of the first Craft Symposium in August 2016. Friendships were formed and networks established which are even now bringing benefits to individuals, the locality and nationally.
There are many talented people working in Fife, Scotland and the UK although, at the same time, there is a distinct shortage of skills in some areas. Real efforts are being made to grow those skills so that the crafts can continue to bring joy into our lives while providing a livelihood for those who have dedicated their lives to particular crafts.
Without the traditional building crafts and a renaissance in understanding of the particular needs of old buildings, it will become increasingly difficult to look after the nation’s built heritage adequately. Fife and Falkland have their own particular parts to play in the encouragement of craft and conservation skills.
Each day of the Symposium has been arranged to have a distinctive flavour with two or more fields of craftsmanship being explored. This year there is an over-riding theme which is the craft skills represented by the built fabric and richly crafted interiors of the House of Falkland, which will play an important part in the event. The interiors have a double-layer characteristic which is fairly rare: the house was built 1839-44 for discerning patrons, Margaret and Onesipherous Tyndall Bruce; half a century later the estate was acquired by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, one of the greatest architectural and craft patrons of his age (1847-1900). Working through his architects, first William Frame (1848-1906)and then Robert Weir Schultz (1860-1951), the 3rd Marquess added a layer of Arts & Crafts richness during the 1890s while respecting to a remarkable degree the then unfashionable layer of the 1840s. How to preserve the special qualities of the interiors is one our current challenges.
In addition to the crafts skills represented by the House of Falkland we also pay attention to those traditional to a well-run Estate in Fife and in particular to thatch; other roofing materials such as pantiles and slates; stone masonry and carving; and the appropriate use of lime-based mortars.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings – a cause dear to John Ruskin’s heart – will be strongly represented both through the lecture programme and through the demonstrations of craftsmanship which will complement the lectures.
The William Morris Craft Fellowship represents, through the commitment and exceptional qualities of the craftspeople concerned, some of the best of the craft renaissance in Britain today. They are celebrating their thirtieth anniversary this year.
Members of Open Studios North Fife will be present to bear testimony to the rich cornucopia of craft-based activities, both professional and amateur, in our part of Fife.

We look forward to welcoming you all to the Craft Symposium.
Dr Peter Burman MBE FSA, Arts & Heritage Consultant
Craft Symposium Co-ordinator
Chairman of Falkland Stewardship Trust
Chairman of Falkland & Newton-on-Falkland Community Council

View the full programme and booking details here


The Spring 2017 AHSS Magazine

Celebrating our 60th Jubilee!


We are very pleased that our editor Abigail Daly has freshened up our design, incorporating our new branding. Please find a selection of her Editor’s Welcome here:

‘Spring is traditionally a time of renewal, of clearing up and cleaning out. Appropriately then, this issue involves dusting off the Society’s archives, reflecting on a year marking the 60th anniversary of our birth and, yes, refreshing the magazine itself.

You will notice that while the magazine looks different, the content remains the same, with a mixture of features, activity reports and news form the ‘front line’ – our wonderful local groups. This issue reflects on our Jubilee year and includes a special focus on the AHSS itself, with our president Simon Green looking back at the Society’s long history. I received Simon’s article on Valentine’s Day, and it does read a bit like a love letter!’

Other fascinating contents include an exploration of ‘Under One Roof’, a resource for building maintenance, and articles on everything from brick collection to Balmoral Castle. Also included is an update on the AHSS’s campaign to save the former Royal High School, which is an ongoing effort in the hopes of maintaining a key part of Scotland’s built heritage.

Become a member today to receive your free copy!


The Spring 2017 AHSS Magazine

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland is delighted to announce that the latest issue of our magazine is now available.

We are very pleased that our editor Abigail Daly has freshened up our design, incorporating our new branding. Please find a selection of her Editor’s Welcome here:

‘Spring is traditionally a time of renewal, of clearing up and cleaning out. Appropriately then, this issue involves dusting off the Society’s archives, reflecting on a year marking the 60th anniversary of our birth and, yes, refreshing the magazine itself.

You will notice that while the magazine looks different, the content remains the same, with a mixture of features, activity reports and news form the ‘front line’ – our wonderful local groups. This issue reflects on our Jubilee year and includes a special focus on the AHSS itself, with our president Simon Green looking back at the Society’s long history. I received Simon’s article on Valentine’s Day, and it does read a bit like a love letter!’

Other fascinating contents include an exploration of ‘Under One Roof’, a resource for building maintenance, and articles on everything from brick collection to Balmoral Castle. Also included is an update on the AHSS’s campaign to save the former Royal High School, which is an ongoing effort in the hopes of maintaining a key part of Scotland’s built heritage.

Become a member today to receive your free copy!


The Planning and Building of the Hebrew University, 1919-1948: Facing the Temple Mount

Graeme Purves treats us to a full review of this exciting new publication

Diana Dolev

Lexington Books (2016)

ISBN-10: 0739191616


Diana Dolev teaches architecture at the Holon Institute of Technology in Israel and researches the relationship between national identity and architecture.  In this book she provides the first comprehensive account of the successive schemes for the development of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the British Mandate in Palestine, from the masterplan prepared by Patrick Geddes and Frank Mears in 1919 to Richard Kauffmann’s campus plan of 1944.

Dolev takes as her starting point the site chosen for the development of the university on a ridge to the east of the historic city.  Once the Gray Hill Residence on the summit of Mount Scopus was purchased for the future university, the view of the Islamic Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount provided a powerful point of reference irresistible to its planners and architects.

The Hebrew University was a flagship project of the Zionist Organisation and was given prominence in its publicity and propaganda efforts across the world.  It was never meant to be simply the University of Jerusalem.  Its significance had nationalist and religious dimensions.  In 1913 the Zionist Congress in Vienna made the decision that the university should be located in Jerusalem, thus recruiting it to the cause of the revival of ancient Hebrew identity in Eretz Israel.  But the university project was also associated in Zionist rhetoric with the Holy Temple (or the biblical ‘Mount Zion’) and the idea of a Third Temple.  Dolev makes the point that in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the metaphoric image of a Third Temple had wide currency amongst Jews and Christians, religious and secular.  It was not so much that they wished actually to construct it – rather it represented a general abstract idea of revival and hope for a better future.  Furthermore:

“Associating the proposed university with the rebuilding of the Temple had an enormous impact on the university’s image.  From then on the university and the Temple were merged in an equally abstract but dominant imaginary vision.  Mount Scopus became the dedicated home of the Hebrew University, as if it was meant to stand there by divine decree.”

Dolev describes Jerusalem as “…a forlorn, poor and badly neglected little town” by the end of Ottoman rule and suggests that its inhabitants “…lived out their mundane lives, more or (probably) less aware of its divine and spiritual reputation”.  However, Western visitors tended not to see Palestine as it was, but through the lens of the Bible.  While British rule brought a new concern for the built environment, Dolev argues that the building regulations introduced by the first Military Governor, General Ronald Storrs, perpetuated and enhanced “…a stagnating Orientalist picture of Jerusalem”.

Patrick Geddes was engaged to prepare a scheme for the Hebrew University at the instigation of the psychiatrist, Dr. David Eder, who headed the Zionist Organisation’s London Branch. The Old Testament emphasis of Geddes’ Presbyterian upbringing made him receptive to the Zionist vision for the university.  He also saw the project as a golden opportunity to put his ideas about universities into practice.

The involvement of Patrick Geddes in the early development of university is well established, but Dolev’s book gives prominence and welcome recognition to the role played by his son-in-law and assistant, Frank Mears, in translating Geddes’ ideas into plans and architectural drawings:

Frank Mears’ contribution to Geddes’ Hebrew University plan eventually became highly significant.  …though he was often overshadowed by Geddes and quite underestimated, he actually became enormously valuable for the project, and his training and capabilities contributed substantially to the attractiveness of Geddes’ plan.”

While the theory behind the master-plan was all Geddes’s, it was Mears’s drawings that dressed Geddes’s abstract ideas with luxurious visual images and captured the imagination of all interested parties as well as the general public.”

Geddes was at pains to stress that his university scheme was intended to echo the architectural characteristics of the city of Jerusalem as well as local towns and Arab villages, but he also acknowledged that his decision to accept the appointment was inspired by a passage in Revelations (XXI-2) in which St. John says: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  As Dolev astutely points out, the visionary perspective he shared with his Zionist employers led him to promote a campus university detached from the city and its population, quite contrary to his evolutionary and holistic ideas.  She also argues that the differences between the envisaged scheme and the historic city were fundamental:

“…while the Old City was formed of an unplanned hodge-podge of mostly dilapidated buildings built on top of each other, the Geddes plan and Mears’ drawings form not only an orderly building complex but also a set of magnificent palaces belonging to the realm of legend.”

Dolev sees Mears’ architectural drawings for the university buildings as reflecting an Orientalist perspective which dominated the European view of the Holy Land throughout the nineteenth and in the beginning of the twentieth century.  She provides persuasive evidence that one of Mears’ perspective drawings of the university campus is derived directly from a print depicting the Tower of David by William Henry Bartlett published in Jerusalem Revisited in 1855.

Dolev devotes a full chapter to the Geddes and Mears masterplan of 1919, giving detailed attention to Geddes’ proposal for a Great Hall, or ‘Dome of Synthesis” as its focal point.  This major building, designed to accommodate assemblies of up to 3,000 people, would face the Temple Mount and its hexagonal plan was intended to reflect sound principles of construction employed by bees, a six-faceted notation of Life, and the Star of David.

Mears’s depiction of the Great Dome as a mirror image of the Dome of the Rock truly and effectively represented Geddes’s concept of the dome as a temple within the university.  It gained enormous attention and popularity and became the best known feature of the future university – almost a sacred image in itself.”

A further chapter is devoted to a detailed account of the efforts of Mears, in collaboration with the Jerusalem-based architect Benjamin Chaikin, to come up with designs for specific university buildings which were acceptable to the various factions which wielded influence over the university project.  Dolev sheds valuable light on the divisions and rivalries within the Zionist Organisation which repeatedly bedevilled progress towards its realisation.  Three contesting university committees were established; in London, Paris and Jerusalem.  One powerful faction, to which the Chancellor, Dr. Yehuda Leib Magnes, was closely aligned, saw Jewish Studies as the principal raison d’être for the university.  Others gave priority to establishing scientific research institutes in and around the Gray Hill Residence.  British and German Zionists battled each other for influence.  The head of the World Zionist Organisation, Chaim Weizmann, saw the university as having a political role, while Magnes believed that it should be free of political involvement.  Some favoured the Geddes and Mears designs while others believed that it would be inappropriate for non-Jews to design the Hebrew University.

Geddes and Mears were finally dismissed by the Zionists in 1929, and only three university buildings designed by Mears and Chaikin were built on Mount Scopus: the Einstein Institutes of Mathematics and Physics and the David Wolffsohn Library.  The building on which the relationship between the university authorities and their architects finally foundered was the Jewish Studies Institute, which the Rosenblooms, a wealthy family from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania had undertaken to fund.  Mears and Chaikin made repeated revisions in an attempt to meet the changing demands of the Rosenbloom Trustees.  The funders were insistent that the Jewish Studies Institute should be accorded a central position on the university campus and eventually Geddes’ Great Hall was abandoned altogether in order to accommodate this desire.

It was all to no avail.  In May 1929, Mears, Geddes and Chaikin were informed by the University Trustees that their services were no longer required in relation to the design of the Rosenbloom Memorial Building.

In my own research into the planning of the Hebrew University I suggest that the hostility to the idea of the Great Hall expressed by some Zionists stemmed from their suspicion of the symbolism Geddes attributed to it as a Dome of Synthesis, a place where Judaism, Christianity and Islam are linked together, a commitment toward the unity of the different religious communities in Palestine to which they could not subscribe.  That view finds support in Mears’ correspondence and the comments of well-informed contemporary observers such as Charles Ashbee (though he had his own Arabist axe to grind).  Dolev doesn’t see such considerations as decisive.  In her perspective, the Geddes plan was primarily doomed because it bore little relationship to the university’s immediate practical needs and resources, but also because the appeal of its romantic Orientalist vision was rapidly fading in the face of Modernism.

The development of the university campus was halted abruptly by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, which left Mount Scopus within the territory of Jordan.  At that time, it was little more than a scatter of buildings in a mix of architectural styles, some of them unfinished.  In the 1930s, the architect Erich Mendelsohn had described it bluntly as “…a wretched botched fruit of incompetence”.  For Dolev, the power of the invented significance of the site for Israeli national identity was demonstrated by the precipitate return of the university to Mount Scopus after the 1967 war:

Yet it did not matter: the image of the Mount Scopus campus in the eyes of the Jewish public in Israel was not dimmed as a result of the final architectural outcome.  An ephemeral portrayal of God’s Temple combined with the national significance attributed to university and mount had more power than the general impression of unattractive buildings scattered around.”

This is an important and ground-breaking book. In pursuing the missing pieces in the story of the Hebrew University, Diana Dolev has opened a window which offers fascinating new perspectives on the influences upon and debates and narratives within Zionism during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine and how these shaped the development of its flagship project.

Graeme Purves

Graeme Purves is the Chairman of the Built Environment Forum Scotland, BEFS. Graeme retired from the post of Assistant Chief Planner in the Scottish Government’s Planning and Architecture Division in September 2013. Graeme has a B.Sc. in Botany from theUniversity of Aberdeen and a Diploma in Town and Country Planning from Heriot-Watt University.  In 1988 he was awarded a Ph.D. for his research on the work of the pioneer Scottish planner, Sir Frank Mears. Graeme was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to planning in the New Years Honours List for 2014.  He is a member of the Scottish Advisory Committee of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.


Royal High School Ministers Update

Breaking news today from Scottish Parliament regarding the Royal High School.

It has been announced today that the Scottish Parliament will not call-in all the planning applications on the Royal High School. Duddingston House Properties had requested that their latest application could be considered by Scottish Ministers in conjunction with their previous application and the St Mary’s Music School proposal so that they may be “properly scrutinised” together. Edinburgh Council emphasised that if this plan were to be carried out, there would not be sufficient time for consultation and proper assessment of the public’s views. The Scottish Ministers have agreed that there is no reason for them to become involved at this time. Download the letter here.

Further to this we are pleased to announce that the number of formal objections to the planning applications continues to increase as the planning department works through the physical letters that were submitted to them. The total number of comments as of the 6th April stood at 4649 (4214 objections) across both the FUL and LBC applications with the total continuing to rise.



RHS Fundraising Concert and Reception

Join us for an evening with two world-class pianists: Malcolm Martineau and Steven Osborne with eminent soprano Lorna Anderson.

6th June Update: Tickets still available, purchase on the door

As part of our ongoing campaign to save the Royal High School we are pleased to offer this world class event to help us raise funds to continue our work.

Malcolm Martineau is recognised as one of the leading accompanists of his generation, he has worked with many of the world’s greatest singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Janet Baker, Olaf Bär, Barbara Bonney, Ian Bostridge, Angela Gheorghiu, Susan Graham and many more.

Steven Osborne’s standing as one of the great pianists of his generation was publicly affirmed in 2013 with two major awards: The Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year and his second Gramophone Award, this time in the Instrumental category for his recording of Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition and solo works by Prokofiev. Previous awards include a 2009 Gramophone Award for his recording of Britten’s works for piano and orchestra, as well as first prize at both the Naumburg International Competition (New York) and Clara Haskil Competition.

Lorna Anderson studied with Patricia MacMahon at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and excelled, winning several awards. In 1984, she won First Prize in the Peter Pears and Royal Overseas League Competitions and in 1986 won the most highly regarded English vocal award, the Purcell-Britten Prize for Concert Singers. Lorna Anderson has appeared in opera, concert and recital with major orchestras and festivals throughout Europe and elsewhere and is a renowned performer of the Baroque repertoire.

Royal High School Campaign
The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland believes that the hotel scheme will irretrievably damage one of the most important Greek Revival buildings in the UK and the world and, by extension, the set piece of Calton Hill, which lies at the core of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.
Please help us to fund this campaign by attending this concert and also by visiting or writing to your city councillors (find them at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/councillors/search), and MSP as Scottish Ministers will decide this important case (find them at www.parliament.scot/msps.aspx).

All funds raised will be used to support our efforts to stop this inappropriate development, the primary cost will be legal fees incurred during the Inquiry of the first hotel proposal. The AHSS have engaged a distinguished Planning Lawyer, feeling that the cost of an Advocate would be too great, to represent us in all the legal proceedings. We have sought donations from private donors/trusts and have committed funds from our central pot, we hope that this public appeal will fill the gap that remains. It is highly likely that the second hotel proposal will also go to an Inquiry. Thank you for your support.

Venue: Stockbridge Parish Church, 7B Saxe Coburg Street, Edinburgh EH3 5BN
Time: 6:30pm start
Tickets: cost £45 (£10 for students) including post-concert reception. Payment should be made in cash, cheque or BACS transfer. Cheques are made payable to ‘the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland’ and should be posted to Sarah Pearce, AHSS, 15 Rutland Square, Edinburgh, EH1 2BE. Please write ‘RHS’ on the reverse of the cheque.
For payment by cash or BACS please contact Sarah Pearce in the National Office: 0131 557 0019 sarah@ahss.org.uk


Strathclyde Group Takes a Stand for Mackintosh Building

AHSS delighted at outcome of potential planning blight in Glasgow

The following letter was sent to The Herald on Monday April 3rd in regards to plans for a student accommodation in front of Glasgow’s Mackintosh building. The group is delighted to say that plans for the seven storey building were refused by 12 out of 19 councillors.

You can see the letter on The Herald website HERE or read it below.

“Dear Sir,

Your recent article regarding the current state of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s organ casing (“Sturgeon to demand answers over fate of Mackintosh organ found lying in pieces”) underlines the need for constant vigilance in preserving our heritage.

On Tuesday 4th April Glasgow City Council will demonstrate whether it really does have the vision to safeguard our built heritage, when the Planning Committee meets to decide an application to build a large unwieldy block of student flats on the corner of Dalhousie Street, adjoining Mackintosh’s world-renowned Glasgow School of Art. The proposed box-like development in its close proximity and dominating height will substantially obscure the present south elevation of the Mackintosh building from view and block out daylight to School studios. The design concept is wholly unsympathetic to its setting against such an iconic building of world renown.

It is ironic that just when every effort is going into restoring the Mackintosh building after the fire, the Council seems intent on approving an immediately adjacent 180-bed student housing development, which GSA director Professor Tom Inns has strongly criticised. The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS), the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, the New Glasgow Society and other Glasgow heritage groups, have also lodged objections.

The AHSS is fully supportive of developments which are sensitive to their surroundings;  this proposal is detrimental to an iconic part of Glasgow’s heritage, and should be turned down.

It would also seem as if one section of the Council is working to undermine another. Whilst Planning is proposing to adversely affect part of our Mackintosh heritage, the excellent efforts of the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau to attract international events to our city has chalked up another significant success. In June, some 600 delegates will be attending The Society of Architectural Historians’ Conference in Glasgow – only the second time this Conference has been held in Britain; the City Marketing Bureau specifically cite the Glasgow School of Art as one of the buildings that have helped to attract the Conference to the city.  It is unlikely that this group are travelling from the around the world to see yet another undistinguished student block.

The Planning Committee should therefore, on Tuesday, refuse the proposals for student accommodation at 294 Sauchiehall Street.

Yours faithfully,
Iain Wotherspoon

Chairman, AHSS Strathclyde Group
Tobacco Merchants House
42 Miller Street
Glasgow G1 1DT”


Royal High School Objection Letter

Have a read of our Forth & Borders Cases Panel letter to Edinburgh Council

Published today, take a look at our comprehensive letter which tackles each element of the new hotel proposal. This is the result of group viewings of the hotel plans and lengthy discussions to dissect the positive and negative elements of the proposal.

The panel had hoped to see a great improvement in the designs following our input in 2015, however, we have seen little that can be commended.

View the letter here

Great thanks to Stuart Eydmann for his guidance and support in putting this letter together.

Have you written to the City of Edinburgh Council? Do so now and have your say in the future of our World Heritage Site. Deadline Friday 24th March 2017. Find out all you need to know here.


Public Meeting Presentations

View all the presentations given by our esteemed speakers on Tuesday 14th March 2017

We are very pleased to make available online the presentations given at our Save the Royal High School Public Meeting by our passionate speakers. Click on the titles below to see the presentations.

Fred Mackintosh, the planning process to date.

Cliff Hague, the economic case

Adam Wilkinson, World Heritage Site context

Alastair Disley, the new hotel proposal and visualisations

Elizabeth Graham, how to object – step by step


Save RHS Public Meeting

Jilly MacLeod summarises an excellent evening held in Edinburgh’s Central Hall on Tuesday 14th March 2017

The Central Hall buzzed with excitement on Tuesday evening as just shy of 300 people streamed into its splendid interior to hear the AHSS’s presentation on the proposed hotel redevelopment of Thomas Hamilton’s Royal High School on Regent Road. After a brief introduction by Carol Nimmo, Chair of the Regent, Royal, Carlton Terraces and Mews Association, in which she read out a message of support from SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the first speaker – Fred Mackintosh, Faculty of Advocates ­–­ gave a recent history of the site and explained how we ended up with three proposals in the planning pipeline and who makes the final decisions. He concluded with the probing question: ‘What does it say about our country if we’re prepared to trash the Royal High School for a five-star hotel?’

Following on was an enlightening talk by Adam Wilkinson of Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, who put Hamilton’s building into historical context, describing how a rediscovery of ancient Greece in the late eighteenth century had given rise to a new architectural style – the Greek Revival – which unlike the Neo-Classical, based on the buildings of ancient Rome and redolent of empire, spoke instead of the people and democracy. This was a fitting style for a city steeped in Enlightenment thinking and seeking to express Scottish ideas through the built environment. Ambitious to show equal rank with cities of the ancient world, the Royal High School was the embodiment of Edinburgh’s concept of itself and as such is ‘one of the most important Greek Revival buildings in the world’.

Cliff Hague, Chair of the Cockburn Association, then gave an overview of the economic impact of the new development proposed by DHP (Duddingston House Properties), his PowerPoint presentation enlivened with emoticons of smiling and sad faces and a cartoon of an old hag with a crystal ball. His argument was that any economic forecast, such as DHP’s claim that their new hotel would provide £25 million per annum towards Edinburgh’s GDP over a seven-year period, were simply predictions rather than fact, and the assumptions and calculations upon which they were based were ‘no more sophisticated than a crystal ball’. Adverse conditions could easily change the context of the development, the predictions could be proved wrong, and we might end up with a budget hotel rather than a luxury one!

Alastair Disley, Convenor of the AHSS Forth & Borders Cases Panel, followed by looking at the planning application, outlining the extent of the proposed demolitions while highlighting common themes of the existing site – natural materials, symmetry, picturesque compositions, classical buildings given room to breath – elements sadly lacking in the new proposals. He then took us on a visual tour using before-and-after images from DHP’s planning application, eliciting gasps from the audience as he switched from one image to another and heady views of Arthur’s Seat were rudely interrupted by soaring barrack-like buildings that rose up from the ground like ‘a submarine surfacing’.

The final speaker of the evening was Elizabeth Graham, a long-term member of the AHSS Cases Panel, who provided practical advice on how to put in an objection to the proposed hotel development, either on the spot using the blank letters and guidance sheets provided on each and every chair or later online. In rounding up the evening, Carol Nimmo stressed that just because it has already received planning permission, it was wrong to assume the St Mary’s Music School proposal ‘has it in the bag’; it was now more important than ever to submit an objection. She finished with the heart-felt plea to ‘ask your granny, your children, your neighbours, even your postman, to object!’ and we sincerely hope you do!

Find out how to object here


Society of Architectural Historians Annual International Conference 2017

Attend SAH’s 70th Annual International Conference, their first meeting outside North America in 40 years

Society of Architectural Historians
2017 Annual International Conference
June 7-11 | Glasgow, Scotland
University of Strathclyde, Technology & Innovation Centre

The AHSS is delighted to be a conference partner of this event!

The Society of Architectural Historians will host its 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from June 7–11, 2017. Meeting in Scotland’s largest city, world renowned for its outstanding architectural heritage, reflects the increasingly international scope of the Society and its conference. Architectural historians, art historians, architects, museum professionals and preservationists from around the world will convene to share new research on the history of the built environment. The Glasgow conference will include 36 paper sessions, eight roundtables, an introductory address and plenary talk, 33 architecture tours, the SAH Glasgow Seminar, and more.




Study Tour 2017 – Book Now!

The AHSS is delighted to announce that our 2017 Study Tour will be a five day trip to historic Ironbridge, in the heart of England. 

Thursday 18th to Monday 22nd May 2017

This year, our National Study Tour will be led by the AHSS Strathclyde Group and is open to all members.

Booking for the Tour is required as soon as possible to secure places – so get booking now!


Download the Information Sheet and Booking Form here, please then email or post to the National Office to secure your place.

Study Tour 2017

Study Tour 2017 Booking Form

We look forward to welcoming you on a Southern adventure!


Buildings at Risk Toolkit

Online guidance available for all

The Buildings at Risk Toolkit is a collection of texts – as part of an initiative of Historic Scotland and The Architectural Heritage Fund – presenting a wealth of information on dealing with vulnerable historic buildings with the intention to aid in their preservation and management. The toolkit contains an abundance of guidance and advice sourced from a number of highly experienced practitioners, drawing on examples from around the United Kingdom. These documents would be useful for both professionals engaging with high risk buildings, and those with a general interest in heritage matters.

Sections include in-depth legislative guidance on liabilities, responsibilities, and current regulations concerning buildings at risk, as well as practical strategies for approaching historic buildings. Furthermore, it includes case studies and pilots wherein the guidance provided is demonstrated in current or recent projects, which is a useful tool for interpreting the information and applying it to personal projects.

These documents are easily accessible, available to all as PDF downloads from the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland website


Gift an AHSS Membership this Christmas

Protect Scotland’s Heritage with this excellent present!

Looking for a Christmas gift with a difference?

Help the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland campaign to protect Scotland’s listed buildings and conservation areas with a gift membership.

There are a great number of benefits to membership, including:

Two magazines and an Architectural Heritage Journal in 2017

Access to unique events and visits across Scotland

Access to our renowned Winter Lecture Series in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow

Click here to learn more and apply online

The support of our members allows the AHSS to Speak for Scotland’s Buildings.



Architectural Heritage XXVII to be published 2017

2017 Publications Confirmed

In a recent update from the AHSS Publications Committee, we can confirm that the next edition of our Journal will be produced and issued to members in Autumn 2017. We are currently doing our best to secure the future of the Journal due to a recent loss of funding. If you are keen to support this publication, please get in touch with the National Office.

The AHSS Council is also delighted to confirm that we will publish two magazines in 2017, one Spring and one Autumn edition.


NEWSFLASH: New RHS Hotel Plans Public Event

Don’t miss the next Public Consultation for the Former Royal High School, Edinburgh. 3rd November

Pre-application Public Consultation

Thursday 3rd November 2016, 3-7pm

Pop down to look at the new hotel proposals from the Urbanist Group with Duddingston Properties, give feedback and have your say.
Location: Former Royal High School, 5-7 Regent Road, Edinburgh EH7 5BL
“Further information relating to these proposals can be obtained from Iceni Projects Ltd. Mercantile Chambers, 53 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 6TS. If you wish to make comments on the proposals, you may do so at the above event and/or in writing to Iceni Projects at the above address or email (glasgow@iceniprojects.com) by no later than Friday 25th November 2016.
Please note that all comments must be sent to the above address and are not representations to City of Edinburgh Council. An opportunity to make representations to the council will exist when a formal application is made.”

Photography Competition Winners Announced


The winners of the photographic competition, organised by the local group of AHSS as part of the Festival of Architecture 2016, were announced at the opening of an exhibition at the Mill on the Fleet, Gatehouse, on Saturday 29 October.  The exhibition, which moves on to Dumfries Museum on 1 December, features the winning photographs together with a short piece of text describing why the entrant likes the building.

In the under 15 age group, three prizes were awarded and two further entries were highly commended by the judges.  The winners were:

First Prize:           Rosie Norman for a photo of the Kirkandrews Bathing House

Second Prize:     Rachel Campbell for an internal view of St John’s Church, Penninghame

Third Prize:         Jack Norman for a photo of the modernist Tongland Power Station

Highly Commended

Toby Iglehart for his photo of Orchardton Tower

Maddison Wallace for her photo of Sweetheart Abbey

In the 16-25 age group, two prizes were awarded:

First Prize:           Roan Ballantine for a photo of the Coo Palace at Borgue

Second Prize:     Connor Bradley for a haunting internal view of Carnsalloch House near Kirkton

Thanks are due to the judges: Martin Robertson (Architectural Historian) and Allan Wright (Professional Photographer), to the Mill on the Fleet for accommodating the exhibition and prize giving, to Solway Heritage for financial assistance and to Wilko’s of Castle Douglas for donating two photo frames.

CLICK HERE to view all of the winning entries.


Autumn Newsletter 2016

The latest news from the AHSS


Once again, it has been a very busy time for the AHSS since the mailing of our Spring 2016 magazine, particularly in this, our 60th Jubilee year!

The Forth & Borders Group are working very hard to protect the Royal High School in Edinburgh, the Dumfries & Galloway Group are running their photography competition, we have launched our new website, and with the help of our North East Group, we are excitedly preparing for our special Jubilee AGM. We do hope that you will be able to join us at Fyvie Castle in October.

As you may know, the AHSS was formed in 1956 to stop proposed demolition in Edinburgh’s George Square. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in this campaign, however in the following 60 years we have been successful in many others! To mark this momentous occasion we will be producing a special Jubilee publication this winter, instead of our usual Architectural Heritage Journal. The Journal will return in 2017. If you have any stories, memories or photos that you would like to be included please contact the National Office, we would be delighted to hear from you.

It has been a pleasure to participate in the Festival of Architecture 2016, if you have not been to any events yet, make sure that you do before the end of the year. www.foa2016.com

To find out more about what we have been up to, have a read of our latest news pieces and view all upcoming events here on our website.

Keep up to date with all AHSS activity by visiting our Facebook and Twitter.


Best wishes,

From all at the AHSS.

Did you receive a paper version of our newsletter? Let us know your email address and we can email it to you in the future!


Royal High School Update

Processing of Royal High School planning Inquiry on hold

To read our full update CLICK HERE

The current Inquiry has been put on hold (sisted) in order for Duddingston House Properties and the Urbanist Group to submit a new hotel proposal for the A listed building. They have begun the process of making a new planning application by submitting a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) on 16 September 2016.

There is to be public consultation of the new proposals on the 3rd November, 3-7pm at the Royal High School. This is to be confirmed.


Winter Lecture Series Announced!

Meet interesting people and learn something new.

The AHSS is delighted to publish the programmes for our Winter Lectures Series, taking place in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

As with previous years, there is a fascinating line up of topics to be covered between October 2016 and April 2017. Take this opportunity to learn more about your favourite Architectural genre or learn something entirely new.

Members and Non-members of the AHSS are all welcome to attend these events. Ticket costs apply, refreshments are provided at each talk.

Download the programmes here:

Forth & Borders Group Winter Lecture Series

Strathclyde Group Winter Lecture Series 

Dundee Conservation Lecture Series: information to follow


Urgent Royal High School Appeal!

Support the AHSS in fighting to save the Royal High School!

Dear Friends,

As you will know the planning application to turn the former Royal High School, Edinburgh into a hotel was turned down by City of Edinburgh Council in December 2015.  The proponent of the hotel scheme, Duddingston House Properties Limited, has appealed this refusal and the appeal will be heard before two government appointed Reporters over a period of three weeks beginning 28th November 2016. The final decision will be made by Scottish Ministers.

The AHSS intends to continue the fight to secure a future for the Royal High School, worthy of its category A listing and significance within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.  The costs of securing the necessary legal representation to ensure that the Society’s views can be put across to greatest effect will be significant, possibly as much as £50,000.

Substantial philanthropic funding has already been pledged and the Forth & Borders Group will make a major contribution.  It is hoped that individual members of the Society across the whole of Scotland will, collectively, be able to contribute £10,000.  While clearly, large donations to the Society’s legal costs will be greatly appreciated, it is the case, that with a membership of around 1,000, individual contributions of between £10 and £25 would enable the Society, relatively quickly and easily, to achieve the total it seeks.

There can be no doubt as to the significance of the forthcoming Inquiry.  No one can assume that the original City of Edinburgh Council refusal will be upheld, given the importance in planning terms which can now be attributed to the purported economic value of a luxury hotel.  Were Duddingston House Properties Limited to end up with planning permission on the Royal High School site, it would mean that no listed building, complex of buildings, or site, whether in the heart of a World Heritage Site or not, would be safe.

If you are able to help support our national campaign to protect the Royal High School for an appropriate future use,

Please see the attached document.


We are most grateful for any support that you are able to give.

If you have any queries, do please get in touch.

Kind regards,

Michael Davis
National Chairman, AHSS


Castles to Clock Towers

The AHSS are delighted to be a partner in this upcoming heritage conference

Conserving the Built Heritage of Aberdeenshire

Thursday 27th October 2016

Through a combination of inspiring case studies and expert testimony, this conference celebrates how opportunities have been identified in the creative re-use of Aberdeenshire’s built heritage; sharing knowledge and ideas on how projects can be funded, solutions found and challenges overcome.

Conference Chairman: Andrew P K Wright OBE
Confirmed speakers to date: Richard Murphey OBE, Tom Duff, David Narro, David Chouman, Ian Davidson and Alan Marshall.

Booking Now Open!

Download the flyer here.

Conference Programme

@NESPTconference #CastlestoClockTowers


AHSS New Website

Welcome to the AHSS’s new website and refreshed look!

In 2015 our Trustees decided that it was time for the AHSS to brighten up our appearance and overhaul our website to create something more user friendly and relevant today. You will notice a number of changes and will see great improvements in our communications in the coming months.

Our iconic Aberdeen Old Townhouse logo has had an update too, whilst our strapline has changed completely to ‘Speaking for Scotland’s Buildings‘. We feel that this better reflects our core role in protecting Scotland’s architecturally significant buildings.

Do you have any thoughts or feedback on our new website and branding?

We’d love to hear from you.


Edinburgh World Heritage Site Consultation

Have your say! 25th July Deadline

The City of Edinburgh Council have launched a public consultation and request your views on the Management Plan for the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. Our Forth & Borders Cases Panel are looking at this in great detail and encourage you to have your say!

“This survey gives you the chance to let us know how well you think the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh work as a place to live, work and visit.”

Not happy with inappropriate or short-sighted changes taking place in Edinburgh? This is your opportunity to influence future decisions. No specialized knowledge required, just your personal opinion.

Take part here.

Deadline 25th July 2016


Royal High School Update

Pre-Examination Meeting 20.07.16 City Chambers

Our Forth & Borders Cases Panel continue to campaign as the future of Edinburgh’s Former Royal High School is still unknown.

This A listed building is the centre point of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the subject of a planning application to turn the former school in to a 6 star hotel. Our Cases Panel, along with heritage and planning experts from across the world, objected strongly to the proposed design on the grounds that it was highly inappropriate both for this building and this location.

Refused by the City of Edinburgh Council on 17th December 2015, Duddingston House Properties and the Urbanist Group have now appealed the decision. The DPEA have appointed two reporters to consider the appeal, whilst the Scottish Government have ‘Called it in’ and will make the final decision.

The Cases Panel continue to make representations whenever possible. Please read our letters of objection below.

Objection September 2015

Objection April 2016

There is an alternative proposal to use the building for the new residence of St Mary’s Music School. Our Cases Panel has seen initial designs and approve in principle.

If you would like to be kept up to date with news, please sign up to our newsletter below.



New Cases Panel Guidelines Published

Everything you need to know about our Cases Panel work

Following our Cases Panel Conference in 2015, the AHSS National Conservation Committee have now published our new Cases Panel Guidelines.

As a complete overview of the AHSS Cases Panel work, this document lays out how the AHSS monitoring process works in respect to planning applications for Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas. It clearly gives best practice advice and guides our members to further information on a number of planning related topics.

Each of our Cases Panels across Scotland have read and contributed to the working drafts, which has now led to the completed piece. Although this has been a rigorous process, the Guidelines will remain as a working document and will be continually open to editing and change.

Take a look and download your copy below.

AHSS Cases Panel Guidelines

Get in touch with any comments that you may have.


‘My Favourite Place’ Photography Competition

Get snapping to win one of our excellent prizes!

To celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, our Dumfries & Galloway group is organising a photographic competition for young people in Summer 2016. There will be two classes, one for those aged 15 and under, and one for those aged 16 to 24. The competition aims to encourage young people to engage with the built heritage around them, as all entries must feature a whole, or elements of, a building.

The first prize for each class will comprise:

  • £100
  • A framed version of their photo
  • An hour’s photographic tuition with Allan Wright
  • Display of the photos on the web, at exhibitions throughout D&G and in the AHSS national magazine

The second prizes will be £50 and exhibition, and the third prizes £25 and exhibition.

All entries and enquiries must be emailed to photocomp@ahss.org.uk. Entries should be submitted as a JPEG file.
Entries will be judged on the quality of the photograph and on a 100 word statement of why the entrant likes the building.
The judges will be Allan Wright (Photographer) and Martin Robertson (Architectural Historian).
Each entrant may submit up to three photographs, each with a 100 word appreciation statement. The photos must be their own work and taken during 2016.

Entries will be accepted between 1 June 2016 and 30 September 2016. Winners will be announced on 1 November 2016.

For more information and rules:



60th Jubilee AGM Weekend

60 Years of protecting and promoting Scotland’s historic built environment!

Venue: Fyvie Castle
Time: 11am Saturday to 4pm Sunday
Cost: £70 (Discount available for Students)

To mark the occasion of the 60th Jubilee of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, our North East Group will host a wonderful weekend of celebrations.

Join us on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October 2016, in Aberdeen to celebrate our 60th Jubilee.

The AGM will take place at the spectactular Fyvie Castle on Saturday afternoon, followed by a tour, talk and 60th Jubilee Dinner in the Castle. Accommodation has been arranged at the historic Carmelite Hotel in Aberdeen’s Merchant Quarter. There will be a coach to transport members from the Carmelite hotel to lunch on Saturday, Fyvie Castle, and back to the hotel.

Sunday’s activities will include a visit to one of Aberdeen’s most historic private houses, Chaplain’s Court, a light lunch, talk on the history and heritage of Aberdeen, and photo opportunity outside our beloved Aberdeen Old Town House.

Members to arrange their own transport to Aberdeen on Saturday morning and return on Sunday afternoon.

Download the Booking Form here.

Download the 60th AGM Notice and Agenda.


Scotstyle 2016 £10 Offer!

Scotland’s 100 best buildings since 1916 – Festival of Architecture 2016

For a limited time, the AHSS is pleased to offer the new Scotstyle 2016 publication at the special price of £10.

This superbly illustrated book describes 100 of the best buildings in Scotland since 1916, a period of unprecedented social and technological change. Bringing together highly detailed knowledge, significant insight and a liberal sprinkling of anecdote, this is more than an account of 100 individual buildings, it is a rich history of endeavour, creativity and pride. The buildings featured here also demonstrate that Scottish architecture can stand comparison with the very best – from anywhere!

Please complete the attached form and either email or post to the AHSS National Office.

AHSS Scotstyle Order Form

RRP. £25


Spring Magazine 2016

Catch up with all the AHSS news!


Spring 2016 Magazine is here!

Jam packed with AHSS activity from the past year. Find out what our Cases Panels and regional Groups have been up to, read Tom Parnell’s full report of the Study Tour 2015 and find out which building our new Chairman picked as his all time favourite.

Special features include ‘Hinterland, St Peter’s Seminary’, progress with the Riddle’s Court Project Diary and ‘Edinburgh, Too – Architectures Beyond The World Heritage Site’.

Take a look at the full 2016 Summer events Calendar and plan your AHSS activities for the coming months.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Architectural Heritage XXVI

Professor Charles McKean Special Edition

This special edition of the AHSS Architectural Heritage Journal, edited by Dr. Sally Rush and Alan MacDonald, celebrates Professor Charles McKean’s contribution to the field of Architectural Heritage and commemorates the excellent conference that took place in October 2013, A New Platform for Scottish Renaissance Studies.

Featuring Charles’s visionary watercolour reconstructions of Scottish Renaissance buildings, in colour.

The focus here is upon capturing Charles’s conversations with his peers and the more recent research projects he was involved with, particularly those undertaken by the PhD students clustering around him in Dundee. Charles’s coordination of interdisciplinary research projects was particularly significant and the consequent synthesis of architecture, interior decoration, furnishing, sculpture and garden design into a cohesive reading of the Scottish Renaissance building is reflected here.”

Free with AHSS membership, hard copies are available to purchase through the National Office for £15 Special Offer.


Spring Magazine 2015

Protect Edinburgh’s former Royal High School!


As can be seen from the front cover image, this edition of the AHSS Magazine has a particular focus on both the past and the future of this wonderful building. Royal Commission Architectural Historian, Diane Watters takes us through the significance of this iconic structure, whilst Dr Kirsten Carter McKee looks at the unique setting of Carlton Hill.

Further special features include a look at our new home in 15 Rutland Square, former residence of Sir R Rowand Anderson and a look at the use of Open Virtual World technologies in cultural heritage.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Autumn Magazine 2014

Discover the future of ‘Hutting in Scotland’


This issue has a distinctly ‘elemental’ theme running through it. Subjects include Sumburgh Lighthouse, built to challenge Shetland’s stormy waters, the earthy turf and stone structures of Iceland, and the sad, fiery events at the Glasgow School of Art. Time will tell whether the Land Reform Review Group’s report is a breath of fresh air or becomes, well, just hot air.

Our ‘International Perspectives’ series continues with two articles examining the conservation practices of two very different countries: Australia and China. Australia’s favoured ‘carrot’ over ‘stick’ approach is an intriguing one, but it begs the question: how do planners strike the right balance between pragmatism and idealism?

We are often taught to ‘think big’ and certainly there are many architects who have taken that mantra to heart with great success. However, this issue contains two articles that offer an alternative by exploring the value of small spaces. ‘Hutting’ in Scotland has never matched the popularity of similar movements in other European countries but a new campaign aims to change that.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Spring Magazine 2014

Mackintosh Architecture and Crichton Memorial Church


In this issue we highlight a range of projects and initiatives, that share a common aim: to improve the condition of our built heritage. They all try to answer some important questions. How can local authorities protect buildings that have historic merit, but aren’t on the statutory lists or in a conservation area? How can ordinary people become proactive in conserving their own homes? How can community groups summon their collective strength to look after a local landmark or monument? The final case study asks the question ‘what can i do?’. Apparently quite a lot.

Fittingly, for an issue that is published after the London and Sochi Olympic Games, and before the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, there is a sporting theme running through the magazine. Historic Scotland discuss their special report on Scotland’s sporting buildings and our new Chairman’s favourite building turns out to be…well, you’ll have to read the back page to find out.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Autumn Magazine 2013

An International View


If the Spring issue took a close look at West Coast projects and places, then this issue extends its gaze far and wide both geographically and thematically. We travel to Russia (twice), Italy and Haiti, and closer to home, to Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Ayr and Dumfriesshire.

A series of themes runs through this issue including energy efficiency, stained glass, archival research, theatres and the contribution of individuals to our collective knowledge. Sadly Peter Drummond writes his last ‘View from the Chair’, having completed a full five year term as Chairman.

Unsurprisingly, many the of the articles and reports touch on the planning system, and ask searching questions about how local and national government manage the process. How much of a voice do local communities have? How will further devolution of planning decisions impact upon our environment? What does conservation mean to the ‘IKEA generation’?

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Spring Magazine 2013

Any Hope for George Square?


The focus of this issue is squarely on the West Coast: with the amount of headlines generated by Glasgow City Council’s plans for George Square and the news of the Burrell Collection’s listed status and upcoming renovation, there has been enough happening in the area recently to more than fill all the pages!

As ever, we have a wide range of contributors, each offering their own perspective and point of view on the issues facing the sector. The competition to revamp George Square in Glasgow is probably one of the most publicly controversial architectural projects in recent years – with over 4,000 people signing a petition calling for the rejection of all shortlisted options. While the long term future of the square is still under discussion, we feature writer and critic Johnny Rodger’s take on the controversy, some rather off-the-wall alternative proposals and the views expressed by the Society’s Strathclyde cases panel.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Autumn Magazine 2012

The New Face of Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh


In this issue, we learn about a community development trust that has purchased a former POW camp, complete with a number of listed buildings. Hopefully we will be able to see this project develop through future issues – watch this space! We also have news from a sister organisation, the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.

Our members inform us that casework is the bedrock of the Society, but we wouldn’t be a Society without our members! In an effort to introduce the Society to new audiences, we will be including a number of new features focussing on education in future issues. Two Edinburgh College of Art academics have provided their ‘key texts’ for those dipping toes into the field of architectural history. We also have the pleasure of including a submission from the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship winner, which covers entirely new and foreign territory. Also, looking to the next generation of architects and architectural historians, we will be taking a closer look at the Scottish university degree shows.

Since the last issue, it has not been all work and no play. The annual Spring Study Tour took place this May and was a great success for everyone involved once again. You can learn more about it in our members’ review on page 38.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Spring Magazine 2012

University Library, University of Aberdeen


As ever, the magazine aims to present a snap-shot of the historic built environment, as well as to share the activities and news of our Regional Groups and Cases Panels with all of our Society’s members.  In this issue, I’m pleased to welcome Barbara Cummins, Director of Heritage Management at Historic Scotland, as she discusses Historic Scotland’s changing relationship with local authority planning departments in the ‘Talking Point’.
The Spring 2012 issue also includes a tribute to Isi Metstein who died in January 2012; an update on the Maryhill Burgh Halls project; a report on the restoration of an intarsia panel at Mansfield Traquair Centre; and an overview of the history of the Union Terrace Gardens site in Aberdeen.  There is also a ‘One-Minute Memory from Simon Green, President AHSS, of his 18 months spent house-sitting the Glasite Meeting House following the retirement of its housekeeper.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Autumn Magazine 2011

Scotland’s New Parliament Building, Edinburgh


One story that has hit the headlines recently is the controversy surrounding the Egyptian Halls in Glasgow.  Read our ‘View from the Chair’ for more on the Society’s perspective on the matter.  There are also reports on the restoration of the White House, an art deco roadhouse in Craigmillar returned to its former glory; on a project to record digitally, by laser scanner, the natural landscape, built dwellings and archeological remains of St Kilda.  This edition’s ‘Talking Point’, by Malcolm Fraser, is a discussion of regeneration versus new build, with particular regard to the VAT regime.  Other highlights include author Alexander McCall Smith’s favourite building; and critic Willie Miller’s look at the new Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

 If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Spring Magazine 2011

Have a read of ‘Buildings at Risk in Difficult Times’


Highlights of the Spring 2011 edition include a behind the scenes look at carpet conservation at Dumfries House; a Talking Point article about buildings on the At Risk register; a report on the redevelopment of the National Museum of Scotland; an article on the winning design for the V&A Dundee.  There are also the regular features of reports on case work of the regional groups; and Ruth Macdougall’s ‘Favourite Building’.

If you would like to purchase a copy please get in touch.


Autumn Magazine 2010

Our Lady and St Finnan Roman Catholic Church


Highlights of the Autumn 2010 edition include an update from Historic Scotland’s Listing and Policy Team; a report on the major restoration project being undertaken at Maryhill Burgh Halls in Glasgow; a history of the Picture House in Campbeltown and a report on the rescue of Belmont House, a Georgian house on Unst (Shetland) which won the Georgian Group award in 2007 for the best country house restoration in Britain.

We’re pleased to welcome Craig Stirrat, who recently joined BEFS as Director – he shares his thoughts on the history of our rail network and its impact on the shaping of places, in this issue’s ‘Talking Point’.  A familiar face in a new role, Elizabeth McCrone, the new Head of Listing at Historic Scotland, introduces us to her Favourite Building(s).  Also in this issue, Peter Burman, Director of the Glasite Meeting House Trust, shares the latest news from the Trustees regarding the future of the Meeting House.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.


Spring Magazine 2010

St Benedict’s Chapel, Sumvitg, Switzerland


Highlights of the Spring 2010 edition include an illustrated ‘Talking Point’ article about what constitutes ‘good’ modern development in historic settings; an examination of how the pioneering RCAHMS building survey programmes, begun in the mid-1980s, paved the way for a re-evaluation of Scotland’s post-war architectural heritage; a report from the Conservation and Maintenance Team on the conservation of Edinburgh Castle’s 15th century siege gun, Mons Meg; and an update on the redecoration of the Glasite Meeting House Feast Room.  There is also a tribute to Eleanor Robertson, AHSS founder, who died in December 2009.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy please get in touch.