Balfour Stewart House, United Distillers Building, News, Proposal, Design, Demolition

United Distillers Edinburgh

Scottish + Newcastle Building, Ellersly Rd, Edinburgh by RMJM

United Distillers Building

United Distillers Redevelopment News Update

Rumney Manor Ltd resubmitted plans by Archial Architects for demolition of existing offices & erection of 80 flats at 33 Ellersly Road, West Murrayfield, Edinburgh.

United Distillers Redevelopment Site Plan

United Distillers Redevelopment Revised Submission 8 May 2009

Rumney Manor Ltd submitted plans by SMC Hugh Martin Architects for demolition of existing offices & erection of 119 flats at 33 Ellersly Road, West Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Nov 2007

E-mails welcome at

33 Ellersly Road – Balfour Stewart House
Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners

photos © Alastair Cook 2007

Planning Application: 07/04755/FUL
United Distillers Redevelopment Submission
to demolish the existing office block and erect a residential development of 119 units.
Heights: 3-7 storeys

Location: West Murrayfield Conservation Area

Distillers Company HQ
photo © Jeremy Scott

United Distillers Redevelopment Report

Salient Points from Report: It is recommended that this application be Refused. “This building is an important example of Scotland’s contemporary architectural legacy…The West Murrayfield Conservation Area has recently been extended to incorporate the application site. The property is specifically mentioned within the Conservation Area Character Assessment as a building of important Scottish Contemporary Architecture…. The proposed quality of the design of the proposal is not acceptable within the conservation area due to the use of reconstituted stone, massing and form of the building. The proposals do not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area.”

Summary: ”It is recommended that the Committee refuses this application for reasons relating to the unacceptable demolition of a building within a conservation area and inappropriate development in terms of scale, height and massing within the conservation area.“

United Distillers Redevelopment Report in full

Historic Scotland: ”The building was designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners in 1981. It is an important office building design heralding new architectural ideals of the burgeoning Post-Modern period of the early 1980’s in Scotland, flowing on from the great drive in university and college building of the 1960s and 1970s. When this building was designed, smooth stone cladding was being reintroduced as an important stylistic element in design, and gridded towers recalled the architectural language of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It is thus linked to a national revival in the same spirit as Alvar Alto’s later architecture.

Buildings of this type and quality are few in Scotland at this period, and United Distillers arguably represents the best of its kind. It is clearly an important building, which we believe your Council specifically included within the conservation area during recent boundary changes.”

Dear Adrian,

RMJM Distillers Building, Edinburgh

I am the last person to object to a building being taken away if it has outlived its purpose and continually argue against the listing process and for all new developments to be judged on their own merits. The only proviso being that if a building of real architectural significance is to be removed then what takes its place has to be just as good or better.

The RMJM Distillers Building is the finest “recent” work in Edinburgh, in my view. An outstanding piece of modern architecture, which always raises my spirits.

I see from your news page that there is a proposal for its demolition, now that Scottish and Newcastle has left the building.

Any proposed new development must be equal in stature to the original RMJM building, not an easy task.

Yours sincerely

Alan, gordon murray + alan dunlop architects

United Distillers Building redevelopment : SMC Hugh Martin Architects

S+N : Edinburgh Building

Distillers Company HQ RMJM Scotland Building
Balfour Stewart House – entry facade photos © Jeremy Scott

Previous News re Balfour Stewart House
Scottish + Newcastle reportedly moving from the Distillers Company HQ, Ellersly Rd, West Murrayfield by RMJM, 1986 to 28 St Andrew Square in newly-refurbished former Scottish Equitable offices: what will be old HQ’s fate?

Photos of Scottish + Newcastle building by architect Alastair Cook:

photos © Alastair Cook 2007

Balfour Stewart House : main page on redevelopment / demolition

Scottish + Newcastle HQ architects : RMJM

Other key RMJM Buildings:
Palm Island Dubai
Newcastle College
Scottish Parliament
British Home Stores, Edinburgh (Robert Matthew)
Homes for the Future

photos © Alastair Cook 2007

Scottish & Newcastle : Office proposal

Balfour Stewart House Reference: AJ article by Patrick Hannay at time of opening

Related buildings:
National Library of Scotland, Causewayside – the gridded fenestration
University of Edinburgh Arts (David Hume) Tower, also by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners
LCC building, also by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners
BHS, Princes St

Frank Lloyd Wright – stepped form and pitched roofs, overhangs
Mackintosh – gridded fenestration

United Distillers Building Context : Ellersly Road

Edinburgh House

United Distillers & Vintners HQ Edinburgh

Scottish & Newcastle : Office development

Comments / photos for the Balfour Stewart House Edinburgh page welcome:

Balfour Stewart House Building : page – adrian welch / isabelle lomholt