Rowand Anderson: The Premier Architect of Scotland

Rowand Anderson: The Premier Architect of Scotland

Rowand Anderson: The Premier Architect of Scotland

Rowand Anderson: The Premier Architect of Scotland

Excerpt

BYCHARLES MCKEAN Secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

The ethos of 'Victorianism' has always seemed somehow less applicable to Scotland than to England: and the broad generality of what used to be called Victorian architecture, as an adequate description of what was constructed in 19th Century Scotland, has already been sundered. To date, however, published information of the underlying realities, and particularly on the two self-conscious attempts to revivify a Scottish architecture for contemporary use, has been scant.

By choosing the career of Robert Rowand Anderson, Dr McKinstry's biography focusses admirably the conflict between the first, picturesquely- based, revival of the mid century, and the Anderson-led, practically-based revival of the fin-de-siècle. The intent to create a truly national architecture appropriate to a technology-driven Scotland was common to both; but first time round the 'Scottishness' was only turret-deep. When it later reappeared under the hand of Anderson's admonitions, it was consistently thorough. For it was Rowand Anderson himself who created the conditions and provided the leadership for that second Scottish Revival, whose most brilliant exponents were Sir Robert Lorimer and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Anderson's own achievements have suffered somewhat by comparison to such brilliant progeny, and this book should redress the balance. Yet he still proves elusive, lacking Lorimer's gush and Mackintosh's temperament.

His bust and portrait in the Headquarters of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland embody the impression given by his books, his folios of press cuttings, his journals and, indeed, his erotica: the impression of a commanding architectural statesman of a truly European breadth of vision. From this book, we can make a tentative stab at approaching the man beneath. From the very beginning, his driving ambition is clear. One of the few student drawings to appear at all in the entire run of the Building Chronicle is his, and his published folio of drawings of mediaeval France and Italy is scarcely more reticent with its . . .

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