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366 Days of Architecture

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Tuesday 13th December 2016

Poetic moment.

Our third birthday in a row, but this time of a sixteenth century poet, William Drummond, who lived here at Hawthornden , Midlothian, perched up above a drop to the North Esk. The house is much altered, ruinous pars of the earlier house are still evident, but Drummond himself extended it - possibly to accommodate his large family of five sons and four daughters - and there were further major additions and alterations in the nineteenth century. It is now used as a writers’ retreat, appropriate for the house belonging to one of Scotland’s leading renaissance writers, a man visited by dramatist Ben Johnson, later admired by Dr Johnson and well enough thought of to be one of the sixteen heads of poets and writers carved on the Scott Monument.

Monday 12th December 2016

Thoroughly modern Matthew.

Another birthday today, architect Sir Robert Matthew. Our image is a detail of the windows of the Queens College tower, now Dundee University. The landmark building looks out over the Tay originally designed to house a library, administration and a Great Hall. Matthew was an Edinburgh man and a number of major works from the practice of Robert Matthew, Johnson Marshall (RMJM) are in the city, the Royal Commonwealth Pool, the David Hume Tower and Adam Ferguson building for Edinburgh University and Edinburgh airport at its most glamorous. His work outside Scotland is also hugely significant, including London where he worked on the Royal Festival Hall for the Festival of Britain and the early RMJM design for New Zealand House (1956).

Sunday 11th December 2016

Easy on the eye!

It’s a birthday today, that of Sir David Brewster, who was born in this house on the Canongate in Jedburgh in 1781. Our photograph from the HES archive shows it on a damp November day in 1964 just prior to its demolition. Brewster was a natural scientist, largely self taught, but a boy who was only 12 when he began studying for the pulpit at Edinburgh University. It was, however, science which took him into the field of optics, he was the inventor of the kaleidoscope, an improved stereoscope for viewing the popular Victorian stereo photographs and improving lenses for the use of lighthouse lenses.