Sir Basil Urwin Spence

1907 - 1976

Architect, who attracted controversy for his contemporary designs. Born in Bombay (India), the son of an Orcadian father who worked for the Indian Civil Service, Spence was educated at George Watson's College and the Edinburgh College of Art. He completed his architectural education in London, where he joined the practice of Sir Edwin Lutyens, who had a profound effect on Spence's work. He went on to work for Sir William Kininmonth (1904-88) at the practice of Rowand Anderson & Paul, first in their London office and then returning to Edinburgh in 1930. He set up his own practice below his family home at 40 Moray Place in 1946. His work ranged from housing to commercial and public buildings. Coventry Cathedral is perhaps his most famous work, but he was also responsible for social housing, including the infamous Hutchesontown tower-blocks in Glasgow intended to replace the slums of the Gorbals and local authority housing in Dunbar which won a Saltire Award. Other notable buildings include Gribloch, a country house near Kippen (1939), the original terminal building at Glasgow Airport (1966) and various school and university buildings including Kilsyth Academy (1953), Thurso High School (1962), the Natural Philosophy Department for the University of Glasgow (1957), the Main Library of the University of Edinburgh (1967), together with the Home Office Building on Queen Anne's Gate (London; 1976).

Spence died in Suffolk (England) where he is buried.

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