About this talk

Running time: 39 minutes

To design a museum for Edinburgh which reflects the city's geology, topography, history, development and characteristics; which has the genetic structure of the city of which it is part, as well as the genes of what it is itself; to house the country's historical collections of artefacts in such a way as to reflect their place of origin, period and category - these were the problems that the architects Benson & Forsyth posed themselves when doing their design for the Museum of Scotland competition which they subsequently won in 1996.

The building was completed in 1999. In their description of its evolution, its significance for Scotland is clear, particularly at a moment when that country sought to establish its own identity. Gordon Benson and Alan Forsyth, when students at the Architectural Association, were greatly influenced by Le Corbusier. They went on to do public housing in London, then set up their own practice and did an oratory in England and two small buildings in Japan (see Benson's previous talk Spatial Narrative). Later, while at the Architectural Association, they took students to Edinburgh to study the relationship between individual buildings and town planning, and came to understand the forces which had brought that city into being; all of which stood them in good stead for the Museum of Scotland.

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Gordon Benson


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