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Edinburgh, 9 - 10 St Andrew Square, Scottish Widows Fund & Life Assurance

Commercial Office (20th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, 9 - 10 St Andrew Square, Scottish Widows Fund & Life Assurance

Classification Commercial Office (20th Century)

Canmore ID 115379

Site Number NT27SE 1073

NGR NT 25523 74024

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Sir Basil Spence

Building Notes

9-10 St Andrew Square was designed by Basil Spence and Partners as the new head office of the Scottish Widows Fund and Life Assurance Society. Planning consent was granted in 1959 and it was opened in 1962. It occupies the same site as the company's previous headquarters, which had to be demolished to accommodate the new office.

The building has nine storeys; including two basement levels and a recessed uppermost floor with an open terrace. The basement and ground floors occupy the whole site, while the upper storeys are arranged in a smaller 'T' shape. The main feature of the front elevation is a void in the first floor above the main entrance. The windows form a regular grid of aluminium framed double-glazing. The reinforced concrete structure is finished in marble, except for the ground floor, which is clad in black polished granite. The large entrance hall is also finished in granite and marble.

In the early 2000s, the lower floor was converted for use by Sainsbury's supermarket.

Archive Details

The Sir Basil Spence Archive shows that Basil Spence was involved personally in the project from as early as 1957, despite the fact that he was living and working in London. The Archive contains a number of drawings by Spence dated 1957. These show that the finished building differs very little from the original scheme. The main changes made during the design process were to the fenestration, the ground floor façade and the south elevation. Photographs of the architectural model held in the Archive further illustrate the development of the design.

The correspondence held in the Archive shows that the architects gave a great deal of attention to integrating the building with its surroundings, in particular, by attempting to reflect the height and appearance of the neighbouring Caledonian Insurance building on which Hardie Glover, from Spence's Edinburgh office, had worked with Leslie Grahame Thomson.

Archive Summary

The Sir Basil Spence Archive holds three manuscript folders, 27 drawings and 46 photographs relating to 9–10 St Andrew Square. The manuscript material includes a Scottish Widows Fund and Life Assurance Society booklet commemorating 100 years of occupancy at St Andrew Square and a letter from Spence to the General Manager of the office regarding the commissioning of Anne Redpath to design a tapestry for the Boardroom. The drawings include plans, sections and elevations. The photographs include a number of exterior and interior images taken by Henk Snoek shortly after the office was opened in 1962.

The Spence, Glover and Ferguson Collection, also housed at RCAHMS, includes five photographs relating to the project.

This text was written as one of the outputs of the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 2005-08.

Architecture Notes

Built in 1962 to a Basil Spence design see NT27SE 1073.01 for previous building on site


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