SCOTT, Giles Gilbert

SCOTT, Giles Gilbert. Urban planning.

Ms. on paper, London, 1942.


Large single sheet 560x760mm, thick stiff paper. Hand drawn architectural sketch of a large urban structure in pencil and red, grey and green watercolour. It comprises the plan, section and elevation of an unnamed design, with labels identifying scale and functional features, such as a slope for a pedestrian subway and direction of travel. Pencil autograph of Giles Gilbert Scott to lower right corner, dated April 1942. Several pencil drawings and sketches of chairs, some with red or green details, and a table to lower half of verso, as well as two architectural sketches of an arcade and entablature. Contemporary pencil mss. recording potential materials for furniture, scale and dimensions. Age yellowed with some marginal stains and fraying, pencil rulings and slight smudging still visible, old folds.

The original architectural proposal for an elevated road system by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960), complete with signature and date. The plan reveals an innovative intersection of two roads over two separate levels, complete with slip roads and a roundabout, paving the way for modern road systems. Scott created scaled plans for three structures around this time: at Bankside and Battersea in London, and the New Bodleian Library in Oxford. It corresponds most to his proposal for the Bankside development opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, which also had a raised road and two intersections, but lacks the cooling tower.

Scott belonged to a family of architects; his grandfather, George Gilbert Scott, designed the Albert memorial and St Pancras Station, while his father established the prominent architecture and design company Watts & Co. in 1874, where Scott became second chair after his father.  ‘A remarkable aspect of Scott’s career was how he rose to the technological challenges of the 20th C, for which his training as a church architect could hardly have prepared him’. He designed both religious and secular structures, including Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power Station, Waterloo Bridge and the iconic Red Telephone Boxes still in use today.

His style was an innovative blend of old a new, but he challenged the modernists by arguing against designs which lacked ornament due to their lack of functionality. He believed the ‘contrast between plain surfaces and well-placed ornament can produce a charming effect’. The elevation of the walkway design conserves a sense of monumentality while referencing classical features in its use of pilasters to raise the structure above the ground. Despite his reservations about modernism more generally, Scott embraced the modern age unreservedly concerning transport and plans such as this reveal his acceptance of the dominance of the motorcar in the 1940s.

The verso of the sheet bears a few furniture designs in different views, comprising several types of chair and on ovular table on an elaborate, curved stand. Scott has sketched the plan, elevation and section of the table, colouring the curved stand in red pencil and writing the proportions. Two different chairs have been drawn, both in their front and side view, one with a red seat and back, the other with a green seat and a crossed wooden back. In the lower right corner are the words ‘English Beech’, probably alluding to the type of material intended for the designs. There are also some unfinished architectural designs, including another chair, a sofa and the elevation of an arcade, with a more detailed sketch to its left.

This sheet provides a glimpse into the mind of Scott, both in grand public architectural terms, but also on a smaller, more intimate scale.

Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects: Scott Family, by Geoffrey Fisher, Gavin Stamp & others, ed. Joanna Heseltine. Gregg International, 1981.
Stock Number: 3870 Category: