After Modernism: Architecture in Scotland 1975-2005

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sci


The architecture of the period since 1975 is attracting increasing attention from historians. Although the broad outlines of its history seem to be well-known, detailed archival research and oral history are increasingly allowing a more complex picture to be developed. On the one hand, this period saw the critical evaluation of the approaches to architecture and planning which had dominated in the 1950s and 1960s, and the emergence of new approaches, often indebted more overtly to history and context. The role of the state as architectural patron was challenged by new political ideologies and models of procurement. An ever more diverse range of individuals and organisation became involved in shaping the built environment, with the contributions of women, minority groups, and local communities becoming prominent. In Scotland, there were particular questions relating to the country's specific economic and social challenges. At the same time, Scotland's place in the UK was debated and contested. Nonetheless there were also important continuities between Scotland and its southern counterparts during this period.
This project will be a detailed research-based and inter-disciplinary historical study of Scotland's architecture between 1975 and 2005. This period is of increasing interest to architectural historians, heritage professionals and the general public, but research-based studies of the built environment of this period remain rare in Scotland. This contrasts with extensive political and social histories of Scotland in the 1970s and 80s, and the post-devolution decade.
The project will explore the key shifts in architectural design and practice in post-1975 Scotland, not least through the prism of awards, competitions, and architectural promotion. It will situate the broader themes of that Post-Modern architectural culture within Scotland's late-twentieth century social, economic, and political history, building upon the existing pioneering but inevitably brief overview histories (e.g. Miles Glendinning et al's A History of Scottish Architecture (1996) or the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland's Scotstyle (2016), and more subjective private practice monographs and popular guides.
Using a range of archive sources, contemporary publications and oral history, the project will offer significant new insights. This project will involve new archival research in a range of significant post-1975 Historic Environment Scotland (HES) archive collections. Other public and private collections will also be used. The project will include field-work, and interviews with architects and client-users. It will complement the ongoing HES Post-1975 Survey & Research Project and may inform its practices. The project will generate new knowledge of the historic built environment, which will potentially shape future heritage decision making.


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