Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Stuart Lowe Harris |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||16 May 1920 |
|Died: ||24 February 1997 |
|Bio Notes: ||Stuart Lowe Harris was born in Edinburgh on 16 May 1920, the seconbd of the three children of Henry Harris, manager of Wood Ormerod, wholesale fruit and vegetable merchants, Market Street, Edinburgh. This was a family business founded by Henry’s father, Frank Harris, who was notable for having erected the first dedicated ‘Banana House’ in Scotland. Stuart’s mother was Ruth Knappett who was a legal secretary. He was educated at James Gillespie’s Boys School and George Heriot’s. |
In 1937 he began the architecture course at Edinburgh College of Art and in 1939 he was awarded a travelling scholarship with which he visited Greece. However his studies were interrupted by the Second World War and he was unable to complete the course until 1950. At some point during this period he worked in the office of Basil Spence. He also worked on stage design at the Gateway Theatre, probably in the early 1950s.
Stuart married Catherine Mciver in 1949 and they had four children: Alison who is an architect, Peter, a sound engineer, Neil, a lighting engineer and musician and Robert, who also trained as an architect but who now works as a designer.
In 1950 he took a post as assistant in the Architects’ Department of Edinburgh Corporation and was admitted ARIBA in 1954 and ARIAS the following year. He rose to the post of Depute City Architect in 1969 in which he remained until his retirement in 1983. He had a very wide range of interests both within and outwith his professional life. He was an early exponent of the conservation of historic buildings. Because of his knowledge of old structures, he was invited to lecture on obsolete building construction as part of the Conservation Course at Edinburgh College of Art. During his years in office as Depute City Architect one of his responsibilities was for naming new streets. He turned to the city’s historical past to do this and became deeply interested in the old street names of Edinburgh. After his retirement he wrote ‘The Place Names of Edinburgh’ with Gordon Wright, the book being published in 1996. He also wrote articles which were published in The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, most notably that entitled ‘New licht on the New Town’ (New series Volume 2, 1992) which established that although he won the competition, James Craig was not the designer of the eventual layout of the First New Town.
Harris had a number of other interests unconnected with his profession. He wrote music and for many years ran the choir of his church, Slateford Longstone Parish Church where he was also a longstanding elder. He was involved with the Boys Club movement, having been a keen member of the Scottish Schoolboys’ Club in his youth and ran a club at the Gateway in the 1950s. He also produced plays for the North Merchiston Boys Club during the 1950s and was Honorary Architect to the Club until 1990. He also worked on set designs for the Gateway Theatre and it was through this connection that he met and struck up a rapport with Moultrie Kelsall on the subject of restoring old buildings. They co-authored ‘A Future for the Past’ (1961). Sailing was also a special interest. As a boy he had sailed regularly with his father on business to London and latterly he sailed for recreation, mostly in the Western Isles. Other interests included writing verse, poetry and letters, the Scots language in which many of his letters were written, and old maps. Classical music was also a passion and for many years he ran the church choir. He took a great interest in organ design and worked with Herrick Bunney on the organ for Mortonhall Chapel. In the 1970s he was invited to direct a series of operas for Edinburgh Opera Company.
As a person Harris was outgoing with a keen sense of humour. Hhe enjoyed philosophical discussions but at the same time was very down-to-earth.
Stuart Harris died on 24 February 1997, survived by his wife, four children and six grandchildren.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|101, Cluny Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||1954|| || |
|23, Dovecote Grove, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private/business(?)||c. 1955 *||After 1970|| |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin and Walker, David M||1984||Edinburgh (The Buildings of Scotland)|| ||Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd||p556-7|
|Glendinning, Miles||1997||Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75 || ||Tuckwell Press Ltd||p12 reference to Hyvot's Bank primary school, built using plastic wall panels.|
|RIBA||1954||RIBA Kalendar 1953-54|| || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Scotsman||13 March 1997|| || || |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Courtesy of Alison Blamire, Harris' daughter||Information sent via DSA website|| ||Sent August 2009|
|RIAS, Rutland Square||Records of membership|| || |
|Sent to DSA by email||Information from AHRC/RCAHMS Spence project per David W Walker and Clive Fenton|| ||Clive Fenton's research notes (sent July 2010)|