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- Category: A
- Date Added: 18/11/2011
- Local Authority: Fife
- Planning Authority: Fife
- Burgh: St Andrews
National Grid Reference
- NGRNO 49567 16755
- Coordinates349567, 716755
James Stirling, 1963-8. Modernist halls of residence building occupying sloping site at University of St Andrews, North Haugh. 3-storey, square-plan, glazed communal block to centre with pre-fabricated concrete modular accommodation blocks projecting to NE forming V-plan. Single storey service court extending to rear NW angle.
COMMUNAL BLOCK: NE ELEVATION: glazed wall to front, stepped at each level forming terraces with tubular metal railings. Steps rising to entrance and reception hall, giving way to glazed promenade concourse extending the length of both accommodation blocks at mid height. SW ELEVATION: projecting glazed portico entrance on high ground serving grand staircase descending throughout the N side of the block. Blind concrete walls to outer bays and rear.
ACCOMMODATION BLOCKS: 2 long and narrow, serrated-plan wings divided into 5 blocks, A, B, C, D and E, stepping down in height. Block to N is slightly longer. Repeating, diagonally ribbed, pre-cast concrete panel construction with window openings set obliquely within re-entrant angles. Concrete parapets to flat roofs with greenhouse-like enclosures providing access from stairwells. Penthouse warden accommodation blocks at W end of each roof. Metal-frame windows.
INTERIOR: functional, pared-back scheme with much original fabric intact. Structural steel pillars painted white. Round windows to communal doorways. Blond timber finishes and signage.
Communal block: connecting corridor/entrance hall to ground leading to broad staircase rising through N side, accessing dining hall, social and games rooms and services at upper levels. Coffered ceiling with recessed lighting to dining room. Blond timber panelling and floors to principal communal rooms.
Accomodation wings: internal arrangement roughly mirrored within each wing. Promenade viewing gallery with study spaces and kitchen infills; large porthole windows in groups of three. 250 polygonal student bedrooms arranged on either side of central spine with tubular metal railings to stairwells; associated shower rooms, toilets and other services also located within spine. Remodelling of staff accommodation to provide extra student accommodation. Reception and wardens offices to ground floor of N wing. Communal study rooms at far end of promenade.
Statement of Special Interest
Andrew Melville Hall is one of the most significant post-war buildings in Scotland and has been recognised internationally as a key formative work by the influential 20th century British architect James Stirling. Designed and realised between 1963 and 1968, the halls of residence was Stirling's first commission in solo practice and his only completed work in Scotland. Referred to by Architectural Design Magazine in 1970 as a 'new departure' for Stirling, it nevertheless bears interesting parallels to three other key buildings of the same period, known collectively as the red trilogy, which first attracted international attention to Stirling's work. The early and ambitious use of pre-fabricated concrete modular panel construction, also a first for Stirling, adds further to Andrew Melville's outstanding special interest.
Andrew Melville Hall is rigorously formal in design with strong geometric forms breaking down the overall mass and corresponding to specific functions. The social and functional requirements of a university halls of residence were considered at every stage of the design process. The glazed communal block to the centre backs against a natural escarpment with the modular residential blocks splayed outwards on either side like arms or fingers, stepping down in height in response to the topography of the site. A wide, glazed concourse or promenade runs the entire length at mid height, unifying the three sections and accentuating the overall horizontality of the design. The interior is characterised by a simple Modernist treatment with structural metal pillars painted white and panelled timber framing and finishes.
The student accommodation was designed and orientated to maximise the views across the haugh towards the North Sea. Stirling noted in his 1974 RIAS exhibition catalogue that each room is angled to "articulate its position on the façade and maintain as fundamental the expression of the most important accommodation". The residential wings went through a series of revised drawings between 1963 and 1968 with patterns of movement between communal and private spaces being a primary concern. Stirling noted that architecture is "not a question of style or appearance; it is how you organize spaces and movement for a place and activity". Each bedroom thus becomes a cellular polygon shape in the finalised design to allow a straight passage of corridors through the spine of the building with individual stairs to each self-contained block of rooms and their associated services. These narrow, window-less internal corridors contrast intentionally with the wide, naturally-lit promenade and viewing deck to better express the intended function of the promenade as a social space for students to congregate. It has been noted that the V-plan form and profile of Andrew Melville Hall resembles passing ocean liners with its port-hole windows, promenade and use of tubular steel railings, although Stirling was keen to distance himself from the analogy. The unusual use of polygonal rooms with re-entrant angle windows can also be seen at Calderstone House by Morris and Steedman, 1964 (see separate listing).
Extensive early use of pre-fabricated modular components adds to the architectural significance of the building. Thirty-two different types of pre-cast concrete moulds were transported from a factory in Edinburgh for on-site assembly with sections lifted directly into place by crane from the lorries. The building was intended to be the first phase of a larger scheme following the same model. While initially expensive to create the moulds for the pre-cast modules, costs were to be recouped in the manufacture of subsequent phases of the student halls. Due to the experimental nature of the open-joint modular construction, the completed building had some technical flaws including localised leaking. Subsequent internal and external alterations include addition of secondary glazing to the promenade, remodelling of the staff quarters and re-glazing of the student accommodation. These changes are largely in sympathy with the character and interest of the building.
The early buildings of James Stirling (b Glasgow, 1926 - 1992) are indebted to the International Style practiced by Le Corbusier. Inspired by the industrial buildings of Northern Britain and the iconography of the early machine-age, Stirling developed a programmatic approach to design utilising the structural properties of industrial materials in ways that would serve the intended function of each building. His three key buildings of this early period in England are known collectively as the 'red trilogy': the Engineering Building at Leicester University (1959-1963) was designed towards the end of his ten-year partnership with James Gowan; the Faculty of History at Cambridge University (1964-67) was completed while working on Andrew Melville Hall, and the student residence at Queen's College, Oxford followed shortly after (1966-71). Stirling taught at Yale University between 1959 and 1983 and was a major influence on the American Post-Modernists. The eponymously named Stirling Prize for Architecture is one of the most prestigious architectural awards in Britain.
Kenneth Frampton, Andrew Melville Hall, Architectural Design Magazine (September 1970). RIAS, Drawings Collection Exhibition Catalogue (1st Ed, 1974). RIBA, Drawing Collection Exhibition Catalogue (2nd Ed, 1976). Leon Krier (Ed), James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates, Buildings and Projects, 1950-1974 (1994) p107. Peter Arnel and Ted Bickford, Ed, James Stirling, Buildings and Projects (1984) pp108-114. William J R Curtis, Modern Architecture Since 1900 (3rd Ed, 1996) pp534-538. Simon Henly, Solutions: Andrew Melville Hall, Building Design - Issue 1850 (2009) p15. Simpson and Brown Architects, University of St Andrews, North Haugh Campus - Conservation Plan (2011). Further information courtesy of the 20th Century Society.
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