Scottish Cities – Architectural History

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Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are four of Scotland’s cities which differ greatly in their architectural histories. DM Design looked at these cities’ architectural differences and the home design specialist also explored how political and historic events had an influence on the design and construction of these cities.


The 1707 Union Act kick-started the 1700s boom in Edinburgh’s architecture, although most of the houses were unsafe, tenement, tall buildings which appeared to be hastily designed to house the population in what was a really small space. Mansions existed as well, but were situated around the countryside. The poor and wealthy lived in close proximity.

William Henry Playfair played a huge role in the Age of Enlightenment which greatly impacted the architecture of Edinburgh. He designed some of the most monumental buildings in the city, making use of a classical Greek revival style. That’s where the name ‘Athens of the North’ originated.

The Edinburgh Town Council proposed a new town in 1752, which was to feature designs with large gardens incorporated into them, shopping centres and green spaces. These would be aimed at the wealthy.


With beginnings going all the way back to 560 AD when the St Mungo church was built as well as the Glasgow Cathedral in 1197, Glasgow’s city architecture got its largest influence from the formation of the United Kingdom during the Act of Union.

The Glasgow post-war regeneration saw the impact of award-winning architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh transform the city landscape, with some of his work depicting an ornamental and historical style. These works included the likes of the Glasgow Herald Building, Walter Blackie’s ‘The Hill House’ family home and the Glasgow School of Art Commission.


Aberdeen Music Hall (1820), No 50. Queen’s Road (1886), Rosemount Square, Provost Skene’s House (1545), and the Tenements around the Rosemount Viaduct (1880s) all make up some examples of the famous Aberdeen buildings and homes made from granite. The granite was extracted from the quarries in and around the area, which is why Aberdeen is known as the Granite City.

Aberdeen had a lot of granite exported as well, which made it the granite capital of the world.


Inverness is one of Scotland’s most historic towns with roots that go way back to its establishment in 585 AD. People would congregate in the highlands for some trading.

The Inverness Castle was constructed along with the settlement of King David in the 12th century, changed from the wooden fort it was to stone.

With its 1593 construction, Abertarff House is the longest surviving house in Inverness and it was developed with the corbie steps synonymous with lots of other Scottish structures and Danish medieval churches.

Featuring strong symmetry and a powerful, imposing presence, the Balnain House which was built in 1726 characterised the Georgian features of the 1700s. The old tollbooth steeple, jail and courthouse also depict Georgian architecture.

The Inverness Cathedral depicting a Gothic Revival style led the spawning of a wave of architectural change in the 1800s.

The Victorian Gothic-style Town House built in 1882 rather prominently showed finials and gables characteristics.

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