Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

Modern Scottish Architecture

Sydney Mitchell’s Royal Bank of Scotland, Kyle of Lochalsh

Among the surprisingly large pool of under-appreciated Scottish architects is Arthur George Sydney Mitchell. His Edinbornian works include Well Court in Dean Village, Ramsay Gardens in the Old Town, and his restoration of the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile. Sydney Mitchell also did a number of branch commissions for the Commercial Bank of Scotland (which in 1959 merged with the National Bank to form the National Commercial Bank, which in turn merged into the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1979).

This bank branch, in Kyle of Lochalsh in Ross up in the Highlands, was built in 1896 and demonstrates Sydney Mitchell’s adeptness at what could loosely be called the Scottish style in architecture. The level of ornament is fairly small and concentrated on the entrance. This simple style can be found not only in the Highlands, but also, in a slightly different variation, in the East Neuk of Fife, and elsewhere, but more often in places closer to the sea.

The stone though light in colour still provides a handsome contrast to the whitewash of the walls. The mis-match in the steps of the gable ends (see below) is an interesting touch.

Simple but handsome buildings like this are easily achievable today.

This post was published on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 3:15 pm. It has been categorised under Architecture Scotland and been tagged under , .
Evan Ashworth
7 Jul 2010 9:54 pm

Glad to see that someone in Scotland is doing tasteful work! Unfortunately, whenever we try to build new-old buildings they look about as convincing as a Lego castle to an actual castle. There was a great article (probably by Andrew) on a Portuguese UNESCO site whose roads were maintained entirely by two old gentlemen using 15th century cobblestone techniques – as Groundskeeper Filch would say “It’s a pity they let the old ways die”

Dino Marcantonio
7 Jul 2010 10:29 pm

Easy to achieve physically–it’s the elite’s mental block that’s difficult to overcome!

Handsome stuff. Thanks for shining a light on it.

7 Jul 2010 10:40 pm

Make no mistake, there are those out there still doing good work. Stroik, Stern, Schwarz, and a few others are still creating beautiful structures.

L Gaylord Clark
8 Jul 2010 12:47 pm

Well Court in Dean Village is a splendid building: I often go out of my way just to admire it.
But “modern architect”? No one wishes that 1896 were no more than a few years ago than I do, but 114 years ago isn’t recent, and architecture of that era is not modern.

valeria kondratiev
13 Aug 2010 3:53 pm

I love this building. I would like to see a commercial building this nice in Queens, NY, but I think that’s a pipe dream.

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