St. Andrew's House

St. Andrew's House (SAH) is a large, Category 'A' listed Art Deco-influenced building on the southern flank of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland. Its southern side looks out over Waverley station, the Canongate and Holyrood Park.

St. Andrew's House is the headquarters building of the Scottish Government. The building stands on the former site of Calton Jail. Today, the turreted Governors' House is all that remains of the former prison, next to Calton Cemetery and the obelisk.

Construction

The building was designed by Thomas S. Tait of Burnet, Tait and Lorne, architects, who won the architectural competition to gain the commission. Construction began in November 1935, and was completed in 1939, the building initially housed the Scottish Office, including the offices of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The requirement for the building arose as a result of a post World War I policy of limited transfer of devolved power to Scotland from London. The official opening on 12 October 1939 was “cancelled due to War”. The official opening by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place on 26 February 1940 instead.

Architecture

Architecturally, the building is monolithic, symmetrical and restrained on the main north facade. To the south, facing the waverley valley, it is much more irregular and romantic in expression. There are many Art Deco influences, notably the severe verticality of the RIBA headquarters building in London by George Grey Wornum.

Tait's design incorporates elements of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne and is noted for being a rare example of sensitively designed modern architecture in Edinburgh.

The building features a number of sculpted decorations, also in the Art Deco style, which are credited to several notable British sculptors: Sir William Reid Dick designed symbolic figures; heraldic devices are the work of Alexander Carrick and Phyllis Mary Bone; the large bronze doors were designed by Walter Gilbert and executed by H.H Martyn; and the secondary doors and stairs are by Thomas Hadden.

St Andrew's House is protected today by being Category 'A' listed.

Governmental use

Following the passing of the Scotland Act 1998, since 1999 St. Andrew's House now accommodates part of the Scottish Government, including the office of the First Minister of Scotland and Deputy First Minister of Scotland and the Directorates of the Scottish Government dealing with justice and health matters (formerly the Scottish Executive Justice Department and the Scottish Executive Health Department). The building underwent a major refurbishment in 2001, although the external facade is still coated in a sooty residue. It now accommodates 1,400 civil servants.