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:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2101, Cluny Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1954  
Item 2 of 223, Dovecote Grove, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business(?)c. 1955 *After 1970 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Basil Spence & Partners1940sBefore 1950AssistantIn Edinburgh office.
Item 2 of 3Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)Early 1950s1969Architect 
Item 3 of 3Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)19691983Deputy Architect 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 13 CottageKippen StirlingshireScotland 
Item 2 of 13 House, Dovecot Grove  EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 131950sHyvot's Bank Primary SchoolHyvot's Bank EdinburghScotlandIncluding janitor's house or houses, based on the design of his own house
Item 4 of 13c. 1953Nairn's BuildingsFenwick AyrshireScotlandRestoration. Probably the architect
Item 5 of 131954Clermiston Primary SchoolClermiston EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 131960sCottage for Moultrie KelsallLaigh Fenwick AyrshireScotland'Buildings of Scotland' gives date of 1949.
Item 7 of 131960sCottage for Moultrie KelsallBlairlogie StirlingshireScotland 
Item 8 of 131960s(?)Laigh Coffee House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 9 of 131960sOpera House site  EdinburghScotlandProject manager - as Depute City Architect
Item 10 of 13c. 1961Napier Technical College  EdinburghScotlandRestoration of tower - work taken over by Alison & Hutchison. As Depute City Architect.
Item 11 of 131964(?)Paties MillCarlops MidlothianScotlandRestoration and conversion to residential use
Item 12 of 131968Meadowbank Sports Centre  EdinburghScotlandAs Architect in City Architects' Department
Item 13 of 131979Scotsman Buildings extension  EdinburghScotlandAs Depute City Architect - conversion to Art Centre


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin and Walker, David M1984Edinburgh (The Buildings of Scotland) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltdp556-7
Item 2 of 3Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp12 reference to Hyvot's Bank primary school, built using plastic wall panels.
Item 3 of 3RIBA1954RIBA Kalendar 1953-54   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Scotsman13 March 1997   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Alison Blamire, Harris' daughterInformation sent via DSA website Sent August 2009
Item 2 of 3RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership  
Item 3 of 3Sent to DSA by emailInformation from AHRC/RCAHMS Spence project per David W Walker and Clive Fenton Clive Fenton's research notes (sent July 2010)