In Search Of The Scottish Cultural Studies Essay

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The issue of whether architecture can spread a Scottish National Identity is one which has continued to arise throughout the development of architecture in Scotland and has taken on a renewed value in recent years. The work of architects such as Malcolm Fraser and Richard Murphy have often been said to be "Scottish", while other architectural projects such as Benson and Forsyth's Museum of Scotland (1998) or Enric Miralles' Scottish Parliament (2004) have both made claims to be representative of the Scottish nation. While this question of "Scottishness" in architecture has been explored by the architectural community through various architectural works, does the notion of Scottish Identity in buildings also lie in the minds of the Scottish people? This research essay uses various examples of architecture which have been said to have some claim to be "Scottish", beyond simply being located in Scotland, in an attempt to establish to what extent this line of questioning is valuable.

An objective research method is crucial to obtaining a reliable body of evidence from which to draw conclusions to help answer these questions. This study uses empirical evidence to allow for an objective viewpoint. The research is carried out using Repertory Grid Technique based on George Kelly's Personal Construct Psychology. This research method aims to discover how a person assesses reality and does not require the interviewer to introduce concepts to those being interviewed in order to elicit answers. For the purposes of this line of enquiry, the interviews seek to discover whether or not a notion of "Scottishness" is present in the Scottish people's perceptions of architecture and whether certain buildings have been more successful in embodying a Scottish identity. The conclusions will be led by the results of this research.

It is not expected that this research will lead to a single, archetypal "Scottish" building and indeed that is not the intention. This research essay is intended to explore how people perceive architecture with regard to their national identity. If such a notion is present, it is possible that architects' approaches to the design of buildings should aim to better reflect the people they serve.


In exploring whether or not the notion of national identity in architecture is present in the minds of the Scottish public, it is crucial to examine what could be considered to make a building "Scottish". In the early 20th Century, the architect Robert S. Lorimer (1864-1929) attempted to develop a 'Scotch Style' through several residential projects, beginning with a house at Rowallan (1902), followed by Ardkinglas (1905-07), and most notably with a house at Formakin (1912-14). Lorimer's approach took much of its base from Traditionalist architecture, employing bare rubble stone walls and small punched-in windows to try and evoke a feeling of a far older building. His focus on the materiality of the building, along with the articulation and scale of elements such as the windows are among some of the recurring aspects of architecture which has been intended to embody a "Scottishness".

From the image of the traditional wind-swept Scottish croft dwelling, to visions of tall and narrow tenement blocks jostling for space, a central aspect of how the development of architecture in Scotland has been informed is in its palette of materials. White lime render, stone construction, timber, iron, glass, lead, iron, and slate. All can be found in the architecture of countries around the globe, but their combination and use in the evolution of architecture in Scotland, along with the influences of ornamentation, style, scale, and context, have resulted in particular significance for Scottish architecture (Jenkins, M. 2010, pp.ix). Most notably in the works of architects such as Lorimer, who have engaged in attempts to develop a 'Scottish' building, the use of stone as a building material stands out as a recurring theme. In order to properly evaluate why such prominence has been given to the materials and articulation of allegedly 'Scottish' buildings, they must be viewed in the context of how architecture in Scotland has developed.


Architecture in Scotland has developed due to many influences. Dynastic aspirations, religious and social changes, as well as political and economic pressures have all played a part. The eclectic mix of architectural styles and influences which make up the fabric of architectural heritage in Scotland has come from many foreign movements being absorbed and adapted to the Scottish climate and available materials - Greek, Roman, Baroque and Gothic are all present as now indigenous architectures, with only the simple Highland croft standing as a natively Scottish architecture.

Scotland has plentiful stone suitable for building and has been used as such from even the earliest settlements - such as in the construction of Maes Howe (c.2800 BC) and the Broch of Gurness (c.500-200 BC) found on Orkney. In the 15th Century, the royal Stewart family used stone built architecture as symbolic devices for cementing their idea of Scotland as a nation state. Their architectural projects were designed to convey the Stewarts' political message of their Imperial visions. They achieved this through the construction of 'prestige' projects such as Linlithgow Palace, designed to emulate the residence of the Roman Emperor on Palatine Hill. The tower forms of the Stewart dynasty's palaces have proved influential in the development of Scottish architecture and, despite the self-serving nature of their endeavours, can be seen as the first steps towards resolving a unified national image. The 16th Century however, brought a change to the attitude towards the use of stone in construction - particularly in the development of Scottish towns. With the rising power of the lesser-nobility, architecture was no longer accessible only to the Monarchy, and the increasingly wide-spread construction of houses of stone rather than timber began - such as in Edinburgh's Royal Mile. With this change in common people's relationship to buildings, this can be said to be the beginning of civic architecture in Scotland with the new stone tenements imitating the larger, grander houses of the nobility. The typically "Scottish" scale of this architecture has continued to inform future notions of "Scottish" buildings. The use of stone in construction even became legislated with the Dean of Guild Courts enforcing construction in stone instead of timber. The monumentality of Scottish buildings, even in normal residential buildings, has some of its roots here. With the further development of the Scottish town came the notions of ornamentation even in ordinary buildings, as well as the idea of the city itself as a monument.

The 1660s saw the rise of Classicism and Romanticism in the architecture of Scotland, as well as a view that architecture was not simply the following of Orders but also a product of its culture and times. The buildings of this Romantic period used turrets and spires to suggest the past, but all the while were still based on a framework of Classical hierarchies. This was not a belief in a return to an older way of design or construction but instead an underlying intention towards progress. Architecture at this time was being used to reinforce an idea of Romantic Nationalism - of an imagined past for Scotland. The extension of Culzean Castle in Ayrshire in 1777-92 by architect Robert Adam (1728-92), is a prime example of such a romantic historical image. This period in the development of architecture in Scotland highlights again the pursuit of a national identity, albeit a largely imagined or at least heavily idealised one. It did however manage to draw from the past while maintaining progressive momentum.


The 19th Century brought a return to Classical ideals under Neo-Classicism, this time with an emphasis on the architecture of 'national' buildings. There had been a change to the underlying political framework of the architecture, with an intention now for buildings to embody democratic ideals. The buildings being built were inspired by the values of the architecture of Ancient Greece - as witnessed by the Grand Tours. With this the marble, limestone, brick and stucco of Greece became the sedimentary stone of Scotland. The Calton Hill memorial to the Napoleonic War dead was designed as a facsimile of the Parthenon. Indeed, Edinburgh became known as the 'Athens of the North' even early on in the 1800s. The exact and measured replication of ancient Greek buildings did not continue for long however, and the architecture was adapted to instead capture the flavour of Greece - as seen in the works of architects such as William Playfair (1759-1823). Following this adoption of a stylistic approach was an eclectic flurry of buildings built variously in the styles of Baroque, Gothic and Roman, creating striking cityscapes of towers, domes and spires.

The late 1880s brought a profound change to architecture in Scotland with the main emphasis being placed for the first time upon the private dwelling. This was in response to the general impression that "the world of architecture was seen as money-grabbing and coarse, part of a vulgar 'industry'" (Glendinning. M, 1999, pp.85). This gave rise to the Traditionalists, led by Rowand Anderson (1834-1921) - a precursor to Lorimer - who sought to recapture the supposedly traditional Scottish architecture of the 17th Century. Anderson's projects drew inspiration from Baronial houses and aimed to achieve more than merely the image of being 'old', through its use of stone building materials and a renewed ideal of "reinvesting architecture with a moral purpose" (Glendinning. M, 1999, pp.85).


The post-Second World War period brought another fundamental point in the development of architecture in Scotland with the rise of International Modernism. The change in people's attitudes following World War II in favour of a fresh start resonated with the Modernist movement's polemical socialist and altruistic intentions. The emphasis was on 'social good' and resulted in the creation of planned new towns such as East Kilbride. This was a tipping point for architecture in Scotland as it became about architecture serving the needs of the people, not merely the wealthy.

Modernism disregarded past influences in order to focus on servicing 'needs' and brought a new aesthetic to Scotland in the form of the International Style. Its detachment from ornamentation and Classical hierarchies was to the cost of failing to fully engage with the existing fabric of Scotland's cities and architectural heritage. Its initial acceptance in Scotland was largely down to an atmosphere of post-war new beginnings and as a reaction against the typically nationalistic nature of Traditionalism.

A main figure in the Modernist movement in Scotland was the architect Robert Matthew (1906-75). Matthew called for a 'National Movement' in Scotland, where he envisioned a combination of his own interpretation of the Modernist ideals with certain aspects of Traditionalism in order to develop architecture which captured "the strong and almost unique character of Braid Scots in architecture" (Glendinning. M, 1999, pp.105-106). Matthew argued that due to the International Style of Modernism, people had become alienated from architecture. His proposed direction included a return to stone as a building material, an approach which can be seen in projects such as Basil Spence's Fishermen's Housing scheme in Dunbar (1949-52). Also taking a cue from Matthew's "Scotch Modernism", in 1952, Edinburgh-based architects James Morris and Robert Steedman began their work together in their attempts to develop a "Scottish" house. In a project which drew some of its inspiration from the works of American architects such as Richard Neutra (1892-1970), they began with their Tomlinson Residence, Edinburgh (1952). The scheme employed rubble stone walling and painted brick and included a private courtyard garden with an intention of embedding a 'Scottishness'. Their investigations also resulted in several other prominent projects - notably Sillitto Residence, Edinburgh (1959) with its striking similarities to the elemental organisation of the traditional Scottish croft, and the rural Winkler Residence beside Loch Awe (1960).


By the 1980s, Modernism had given way to Postmodernism in a rush of icons, images and gestural architecture. The loss of the socialist moralistic force which led the Modernist movement resulted in a consumer-driven approach which lacked any coherent direction. Working within a purely Capitalist framework, iconic architecture took the lead and ignored regional diversity in favour of abstract form making.

"...for the first time ever, architecture has ceased to be something concerned with tomorrow, with building a future for those yet to come. Indeed, it has ceased to concern itself with the substance of buildings, and instead has cheapened itself into another consumption device for the instant moment..." (Glendinning. M, 2004, pp.20)

While the Postmodern movement is generally considered to be short-lived, the lack of direction which came with the iconic imagery of the architecture it produced has become its legacy. In any endeavour to develop a "Scottish" building, abstract form-making is less likely to yield results compared to the considered efforts of Morris and Steedman or Robert Matthew, with their positive cultural intentions and use of 'traditional' or regionally specific materials in construction. In terms of establishing direction for the exploration of a regional architecture, and for evaluating whether such an architecture speaks to the Scottish public, it seems that the failure of Modernism as an all-encompassing movement and the meaningless and image-led nature of Postmodernism, both point towards finding a new approach.

"The present ruination of Modernism is irreversible because it stems from the self-destructive internal dynamic of some of the most fundamental values of the Modern Movement ... Now, the Modern Movement is finally bankrupt, architecturally and morally - and so the only way out of the quagmire... is to look beyond Modernism altogether." (Glendinning. M, 2004, pp.29-30)

In his publication The Last Icons (2004), Miles Glendinning proposes looking to the Critical Regionalism of Kenneth Frampton (b.1930). This Critical Regionalism aims to reduce Modernism's whitewash of the local by its international nature by focusing on "locally inflected manifestations of world culture" (Frampton, K. 1983, pp.16-30). Here Frampton is suggesting the idea of 'essence' in architecture, informed by a modernity which is strongly based upon the context and culture in which a building is situated. Through this approach, there is an opportunity to push back against the effects of global and homogenising approaches to architecture and for a cultural self-determination to be made towards the architecture it produces without it being branded as a fundamentalist discourse. In examining Scottish architecture as it stands and the responses and attitudes of the Scottish public towards it, steps can be taken towards both a pragmatic design framework of social inclusion as well as promoting a culturally sensitive regionalism in new buildings.


Scottish architect Malcolm Fraser (b.1959) has worked extensively in Scotland, completing several projects in Edinburgh's Old Town, including the Scottish Poetry Library (1999), DanceBase (2001), and the Storytelling Centre (2006). The Storytelling Centre is located on Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile and was designed for the Scottish Storytelling Forum. The building occupies the former site of the Netherbow Arts Centre and is integrated with the adjacent 15th-century John Knox House. The scale of the building, the articulation of its elements - small punched windows and bell tower - as well as its palette of sandstone and white render, form a contemporary building which speaks of its context and sits comfortably with its historic neighbours without resorting to the crudity of pastiche.

The Scottish Museum (1999) on Chamber Street, Edinburgh, by Benson & Forsyth is another building which has been purported to be representative of Scottish national identity. In Heritage & Museums Shaping National Identity (2000), Gordon Benson writes of how the project was intended to be strongly rooted in the context of its site. The design strongly emphasises context, local history, and building function. This local specificity was married with the Modernist design approach of Le Corbusier (1887-1965) to produce a design intended to be more pragmatic than ideological. While the facades are clearly more Modernist than traditional, the building's local sandstone cladding and its tower entrance form both engage with the recurring materials palette of "Scottish" architecture and its contextual design approach chimes the aspirations of Critical Regionalism.

While the Scottish Museum makes claims to be reflective of national identity, the most recent architectural engagement with the concept of national identity for Scotland is found in the Scottish Parliament building (2004) by Spanish architect Enric Miralles (1955-2000). Located at the foot of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the new Scottish Parliament building is a riot of forms intended to be a symbolic institution that is representative of Scotland and Scottish democracy. Employing stone, timber, glass and steel, Miralles' design sought to evoke feelings of the Scottish landscape through a reading of the building's context which was intended to be more spiritual than literal. However, setting aside the controversy surrounding the spiralling costs of the project, the building has received a largely positive reception by many architects from around the world. However, its reception by the public has not been as positive (Glendinning, M. 2004). Despite the intentions of the architect to create a contextual and symbolic building that it would advertise and represent Scotland and its people, the building has seemingly failed to engage the public with notions of Scottish identity.

"Enric Miralles' overall concept for Holyrood was arguably a classic case of Critical Regionalism, in its attempt to ground the new parliament in... context of culture and place" (Glendinning. M, 2004, pp.32)

As the building has used materials which have occurred throughout the development of architecture in Scotland and is not of disproportionate scale to its context, could it perhaps be the ornamentation of the building which has rendered it inaccessible as a symbol of national identity? Commonly singled out are the black anvil-shaped motifs which surround the office windows the meaning of which remained a mystery until they were revealed by the architect to be symbolic of the Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch from the Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) painting of the same name. Aspects of the building such as these, along with the underlying critical discourse of Miralles' design and how it has influenced the building form, may be appreciable by those who are architecturally trained but still fails to resonate with the Scottish public. Why has this building, purposely designed to be a symbol of the Scottish people, apparently failed to capture the Scottish spirit?



In this attempt to establish whether or not the notion of "Scottishness" in architecture is present in the minds of the Scottish people, empirical evidence is required. The evidence gathered in this research will allow an evaluation to be made with regard to the value of pursuing architecture with a basis in Frampton's Critical Regionalism with the aim of embodying Scottish national identity. The research method used is the Repertory Grid Technique, an interview method based on Personal Construct Theory. Personal Construct Theory was formulated by American psychologist George Kelly (1905-1967) and published in his book A Theory of Personality - A Psychology of Personal Constructs in 1963. Kelly's theory demonstrates how an individual breaks down their perceptions of reality within a formulated framework of constructs. An individual assesses reality relative to their various constructs. The Repertory Grid Technique interview allows the researcher to attempt to discover an interviewee's constructs, which they are unlikely to even be aware of themselves. Kelly's theory has its basis in clinical psychology but his theory is suitable for this research due to its focus on perception. It also has the benefit of producing results which are testable - any hypothesis drawn from the results is able to be easily tested against other evidence.

Personal Construct Theory is particularly pertinent to this line of questioning as it has the possibility to uncover any latent notions of national identity without artificially introducing the concept during the interview.


"man might be better understood if he were viewed in the perspective of the centuries rather than in the flicker of passing moments" (Kelly, 1963)

This is one of two founding notions of Kelly's theory which reflects the manner of this research where the empirical evidence of the study can be compared to the historical precedents of approaches and attitudes towards the development of Scottish architecture. The second notion of Kelly's theory is that "man contemplates in his own personal way the stream of events upon which he finds himself so swiftly borne." (Kelly, 1963). This recognition of individuality is an important factor in determining whether a collective national identity is present and if it is valued.

The constructs which Kelly has outlined in his Personal Construct Theory are present in each individual and according to Kelly, are how we evaluate reality. Constructs are bipolar creations which are used to assess something's properties. For example, for something to be considered 'hot', the notion of 'cold' must also exist. The construct must be explicitly bipolar as it is not only stating what something is but also what it isn't. We place the thing being measured - called an element - between the two poles of a construct in order to assess it. The framework of constructs is personal to each individual, as is the cause for, and manner of, each construct's creation, resulting in a unique view of the world. This said, common constructs between individuals can be discovered through an interview process and assessments and predictions made based on these findings. To this end, twenty interviews will be conducted for this research essay in order to provide a solid sampling.


The Repertory Grid Technique which is used to discover people's hidden constructs is not a regular questionnaire, but instead is designed to allow the interviewee to uncover how they are personally evaluating their experiences of the world. For the purposes of this research the focus of the interviews is the perception of architectural form.

The interview is broken down into three sections. In the first section basic personal information about the interviewee is recorded - name (optional), age, gender, and occupation. The second section records 'Basic Constructs' which have been uncovered. The third section is 'Laddering Down' where the basic constructs are refined into simpler, underlying constructs. The author has selected eleven images of buildings which are suitable to the line of questioning. These images avoid revealing too much of any surrounding buildings and avoid including the presence of people where possible, in order to limit influencing the interviewee's answers by association. For the second section the interviewer selects three images of the eleven at random and presents them to the interviewee. The interviewee is then asked "In what way are two of these images similar?". This allows the first bipolar construct to be established. The image which was not chosen is put to one side and the interviewer continues to question in what ways that any two of the three images are similar. Every three constructs uncovered, the interviewer selects three new images at random and repeats the process until it has been completed twenty times. The constructs in this research interview could easily range from Traditional/Contemporary to Stone/Not Stone and potentially Scottish/Not Scottish.

In the third section, the 'Laddering Down' of the Basic Constructs is recorded. Here the participant is asked which pole of a particular basic construct they prefer and what it is that has informed their preference. For instance, if the participant had identified a basic construct as Stone as opposed to Not Stone they might prefer Stone because they see it as Natural as opposed to Unnatural. This might be due to the participant associating Natural with Organic instead of Man-made. By this process it is possible to discover the root of why someone prefers certain elements and why. The images used in the interviews are included with this essay in Appendix A. A sample Repertory Grid Technique interview is included in Appendix B.


Due to the visual nature of the interview, the selection of the images used plays an important part. The buildings selected are not of any single function, style, movement, or time period, but instead have been chosen as they cover a range of relevant building characteristics which have been argued to embody a "Scottishness". This selection is intended to increase the opportunity for association with national identity or "Scottishness" to emerge, should it be present. Not all of the buildings are prominent architectural works and include primary schools, residences, offices, museums, and government buildings.

The buildings which comprise the interview set can be catagorised loosely into two groups. The first group are buildings which were designed with intentions of evoking a "Scottishness" in their architecture - the Scottish Intentions group. Architecture by Malcolm Fraser, Morris & Steedman, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Benson and Forsyth, Robert S. Lorimer, and finally Enric Miralles make up the group. An assessment of how successful some of these projects have been will be possible by using the data provided by the interviews.

The second group are buildings which are located in Scotland and have certain characteristics which are commonly associated with "Scottish" architecture - Scottish Characteristics group. The range of the selection should enable a wide array of responses from the participants and provide a set of results which can be compared to the Scottish Intentions group to see if they have any strongly recurring responses in similar.

Within these two groups there is a broad range of time periods and many of the buildings share similarities which bridge between the two groups. Their catagorisation is simply to provide a basis for subsequent discussion. The names, locations, and classifications of the buildings are not made known to any of the participants of the study.



Analysis of the results of the Repertory Grid interviews provides an in-depth view of how and why people have responded a certain way to allegedly "Scottish" buildings. The data recorded in the interviews has been transferred to a tabular form to allow for analysis - full sets of the research results are available in Appendices C and D.

The results have been organised into five areas of reference which are common to each of the participants' range of constructs and associations. These reference areas are Context, Materiality, Features, Form, and Impression. To avoid subjectivity by the author, these areas have been established in conjunction with the author's study supervisor. Within these reference areas, the responses can be viewed in relation to an individual building or as part of a greater whole. In this manner, insight into people's perception of architecture takes shape.

Each interview image has two tables which represent stages 2 and 3 of the interview process - the Basic Constructs (available in Appendix C) and then the Laddered Constructs (available in Appendix D). Table One (numbered 1.1, 2.1, 3.1 etc. for each of the eleven interview images) includes all of the Basic Constructs which were attributed to a given image. For instance, for Image 01, the Basic Constructs uncovered included Urban, Contemporary and Man-Made (1.1).

Table Two (numbered 1.2, 2.2, 3.2 etc) shows the Laddered Constructs uncovered in the third section of the interviews. It is these Laddered Constructs which are of most value as they reveal the deeper reasons behind the participants' preference for a particular pole of the Basic Constructs they initially identified. For example, in the Laddering Down for Image 01, the Basic Construct of Man-Made was associated with Synthetic, Dishonest and Stressful (1.2).


The range of responses gathered from the interview process was broad, with many noteworthy commonalities of constructs and associations being revealed. The notion of Scottish identity, or buildings being considered Scottish, was uncovered during the interview series although it was not an overriding feature in the interviewees' perceptions of Scottish architecture. The responses to the building set used in the interviews elicited a wide range of responses which are very insightful as to how people view, evaluate and respond to architecture and built form, with Constructs and associations of Scottish occurring on several occasions.

Notions of Scottishness were uncovered directly in several buildings - where the interviewee specifically stated them to be Scottish or Not Scottish, or when other Basic Constructs elicited were Laddered Down to uncover underlying associations of being Scottish. There was also a clear pattern of positive associations to several recurring constructs not explicitly highlighted as being Scottish by the interviewees. In view of this, it is first valuable to examine the materials, features and impressions that were identified by the interviewees which correspond with those elements which have, in buildings by architects pursuing Scottish identity in architecture, been commonly thought of as being Scottish.


The term 'materiality' in this context relates to the materials which have been used in the construction and finishing of the buildings. The materials which interviewees responded positively to were Stone (Tables 4.2, 5.2, 6.2, 7.2, 9.2 and 11.2), White Render (5.2 and 8.2), and Timber (8.2 and 10.2) each of which have long traditions of use in Scottish architecture and have been associated with "Scottishness".

Stone had the largest response from interviewees. Instead of stone being viewed negatively as primitive or undeveloped, the strong positive associations elicited by the interviews gives insight into how the Scottish people value stone for its associations with having a past, in turn informing themes of context and identity in its continued use in Scotland's architecture. In the instance of the Glasgow Mackintosh School (Image 06) associations with its Materiality of Stone (6.2) included it being seen as Scottish. Other relevant associations with Stone were Old, Has a History, Permanent and Honest (4.2, 5.2 and 6.2). These positive associations relate to feelings of connectivity and familiarity, especially in terms of Has a History and Honest. The association of Honest is revealing as it shows that these buildings are seen as being correct or right in their context, whereas Has a History shows a value being placed on architecture that is understandably connected to the past.

Fyvie Castle (Image 05) was highlighted for White Render as a positive construct with associations of Homely, Welcoming, Comfortable and Relaxed (5.2) similar to the associations uncovered for Stone which related to feelings of connectivity, identity and familiarity. Sillitto House (Image 08) also highlighted White Render as a positive construct but its associations were New, Fresh and Reliable (8.2) which shows a mixture of both disconnection in New and a familiarity in Reliable.

Timber was identified for Sillitto House (Image 08) and Maggie's Centre, Edinburgh (Image 10) with positive associations of New, Forward-Thinking and Progressive. Despite the long tradition of timber being used in Scottish architecture, these positive associations are not related to the past or based on identity but are aspirational and related to development. The lack of historical associations may be down to few historic Scottish timber-built buildings surviving to current day.


The term 'features' in this context refers to individual components which make up architectural form. One of the main Features to be highlighted by the interviews was the presence of a Tower (3.2, 5.2 and 9.2). The tower has occurred frequently within Scottish architecture and throughout its development. The interviewees associated it with Comfortable (3.2) and Unique and Special (5.2 and 9.2). These results can be seen to show a positive connection to the tower as a building feature which is not seen as exclusive, but in fact a positive and identifiable element of the architecture. Comfortable shows a familiarity and connection, while Unique and Special reveal a value being placed on the form.

Interviewees highlighted Pitched Roof (7.2, 9.2 and 10.2), associating it with Honest and Trustworthy (7.2) and Sense of Place, Meaningful and Complete (9.2). As with Tower, Pitched Roof has similar underlying associations of identity and place, as well as significance, value and being understandable.

Although, not commonly referred to as a Scottish architectural feature, Glasgow Mackintosh School (Image 06) was highlighted for Large Windows (6.2) with its associations of it being Connected, Contextual and Identity (6.2).


Impressions differ from the independent physical observations of Materiality and Features as Impressions are instead referring to the buildings in their entirety. The responses range from general terms such as New and Old, to Impressions which are more precise - Man-Made and Ornamental. The most common response was Contemporary (1.2, 3.2, 4.2 and 10.2) or Traditional (2.2, 5.2, 7.2, 9.2 and 10.2). Most associations with Traditional relate to ideas of being clear and understandable - Familiar (2.2 and 10.2), Defined (5.2 and 7.2) and Clear Function (7.2). The value of age and connection to the past, as found in the associations with Stone, reoccur with Traditional also having positive associations of Old (2.2, 7.2 and 10.2), Has a History (2.2 and 7.2), Longevity (5.2 and 7.2) and Established (9.2). On the other hand, Contemporary was associated with New (3.2) and Innovative (1.2 and 4.2). It also drew associations of Confusing (4.2) and Abstract (3.2). The division between Contemporary and Traditional is clear, with associations on one side being familiar and connected, with the other being new, disconnected and forward-thinking.

While constructs and associations of Materials, Features and Impressions of the buildings did not always directly identify "Scottishness", the positive associations with elements that are commonly held to embody a Scottishness shows that there is cause for inferring a connection between the Scottish people and supposedly Scottish architectural expressions.


The notion of "Scottishness" or Scottish identity was directly highlighted during the interview series and occurred in seven of the eleven buildings in the interview set.

Formakin House (Image 05) and Fyvie Castle (Image 09) were both said to have an Impression of being Scottish, with the associations uncovered for this construct being Contextual, Familiar, Connected, Understandable, and Recognisable (Tables 5.2 and 9.2). Both buildings were also noted for their Materiality of being Built from Stone (5.2 and 9.2), and associated it with Permanent, Secure and Trustworthy (5.2) and Honest and Reliable (9.2). Formakin House's Basic Construct of Built from Stone was also associated with being Scottish (5.2). As one of Lorimer's intentions for Formakin House was to develop a 'Scotch Style' with - amongst other things - the use of rubble stone walls, this seems to have shown to be successful in its communication of "Scottishness".

The Museum of Scotland (Image 03) and The Storytelling Centre (Image 11) also gave the Impression of being Scottish (3.2 and 11.2) with associations of Contextual and Familiar (3.2) and Understandable, Recognisable and Connected (11.2). They were also noted to have Form which was Contemporary Scottish (3.2 and 11.2) that was associated with being Inspiring, Innovative and Connected (3.2 and 11.2). Both of these buildings were designed with the intention to have them embody Scottish Identity, with the purpose of the Museum of Scotland expressly being to symbolise and curate the identity and heritage of Scotland. It is noteworthy that these two contemporary buildings that were designed with intentions to embody a Scottish identity and regional specificity, have apparently been successful in communicating Form and Impression of Scottishness in their architecture.

Interviewees highlighted the Scottish Parliament (Image 01) and Maggie's Centre, Edinburgh (Image 10) as having the Impression of being Not Scottish (1.2 and 10.2), and associated this pole of the construct with Unknown (1.2), Disconnected (1.2 and 10.2) and Unfamiliar and Unexpected (10.2). While these associations are positive associations, it still highlights an awareness of the apparent lack of Scottish identity in these buildings. For the Parliament building in particular, the Unknown and Unfamiliar qualities which have been uncovered speak to the negative reception and criticism which the building has received. The Impression of the building's newness was associated with Unsettling and Unfamiliar (1.2), highlighting a failure to properly interface with the context. Despite the building's underlying discourse being based in Critical Regionalism, the overall Impression of the building has not rendered it Scottish in the minds of the Scottish people.


This research essay aimed in discover whether architecture could embody Scottish national identity and whether or not the notion of Scottishness or Scottish identity in architecture was present in the minds of the Scottish people. It is clear from the results of the study that such notions are present. However, such associations of Scottishness are not always attributed directly as a primary response but are often an underlying association related to certain materials, features or overall impressions of a building.

From the range of responses uncovered by the interview process, it has shown that while "Scottishness" in architecture is a factor in people's understanding and definition of identity, it is not in itself an irreducible starting point for people's understanding of architecture and that it is based upon a simpler, underlying construct of Familiarity. In familiar architecture people have associations which are understandable and comforting. Buildings such as these respond to identity because they aid our comprehension of the world as we expect it to be and form part of a collective understanding. Architecture which is considered foreign or alien, whether in materiality, form, feature or impression has associations of 'newness' and disconnection due to the architecture being an unknown. Although people identify less with the unexpected and new, their responses to them are still positive. It is then between the two poles of Familiar and Unfamiliar which help people draw their definitions of identity. People are aware of and appreciate the past and the familiar, but they also have a desire to transform and develop. Understandings of "traditional" or "modern" come down to an individual's interpretation and as such it would not be practical or sensible to advocate replicating traditional architecture in contemporary buildings seeking to embody national identity.

The results of this study have provided a useful basis for discussion and debate in support of the development of a Scottish modern tradition in architecture, informed and enriched by the shared positive constructs of the Scottish people and rooted in a framework of Critical Regionalism. It has shown that there is value in pursuing architecture that is responsive to the local traditions and inflections of Scotland and the Scottish people - promoting cultural self-determination and leading to architecture which can capture the essence of the context and maintains and promotes connections to the shared local constructs of the users.

While the study has responded to the question of Scottish identity in architecture, the depth of the responses uncovered has been far wider and more revealing - beyond simply addressing architecture in terms of national identity. The research has also revealed significant unconscious constructs relating to how people perceive and interpret architecture and built form. Considerations for further study would include further evaluation of the research results to further explore the fundamental constructs on which people's interpretations of architecture are based.