ProjectsEarly important projects with major responsibility in Partnership.
Large scale Town Centre restoration and reconstruction:
- In the Canongate, Edinburgh for the City of Edinburgh.
- In Old Aberdeen for the University of Aberdeen.
- Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
- Hydro-Electric Power Stations, Control and Switching stations, for the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board
- Primary school, Kyle of Lochalsh.
- Many castle restorations including Aboyne, Muckrach, Rossend.
- Work with Thomas Gehrig (Munich) on the "Six Bells", Kings Road London was very stimulating and developed a fine friendship.
Multidiscipline experience with the Hydro
The work for the Hydro-Board in the early 1950s was fascinating, not only because we were working over vast areas of the Highlands but because we were sitting in meetings with contractors and engineers of many disciplines – managers, electrical and mechanical, structural and hydraulic, and strange word, civil, in creating big schemes of great social value, and sound investment which have now been fairly well absorbed into the landscape.
Aboyne: learning from the building
Aboyne castle was perhaps the most enjoyable because we had an excellent local team, including the Laird himself, and as we picked our way through the fragile, derelict structure we were learning from the building itself how the work should progress.
Saving Rossend Castle
The most important work that I was deeply involved in was the fight to save Rossend Castle – a significant historic structure in Burntisland in Fife; originally 12 th century, but destined to play a part in the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, and of King James V1. In 1601, the king was injured while staying at Rossend when the general Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which he was due to attend was to meet at St. Andrews. He persuaded the Church to move the meeting to a more convenient place for himself and this was done. The meeting was held in Burntisland Parish church, then only 6 years old. At the meeting, a proposal to have a new authorised version of the bible was made, and accepted. The Geneva bible, then the accepted version was not popular and the king had a particular dislike of it. James V1 was in London as James 1st. when the fine and beautiful language of the King James version of the bible, which proved to have vast international importance, was first published in 1611.
Rossend Castle was in a parlous state by the early 1960’s and in the ownership of Burntisland Town Council who refused to fund restoration in anyway and in fact were determined to have the building demolished. There was a very long fight involving many people and I played a major role in the final episode which included a second Public Inquiry. Rossend was saved and I was strongly backed by my office Robert Hurd and Partners, Architects and L A Rolland and partners Quantity Surveyors who took on the financial and contractual responsibility for securing this prominent Scottish Castle.
Presented with The Nigel Tranter Memorial Award in 2013 for work on the restoration reconstruction and securing of Scottish Castles over the years.
Important projects under own name.
- The St. Mungo Museum of Comparative Religion at Glasgow Cathedral Square
- Radisson Blu, formerly the Scandic Crown Hotel, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
- Hopetoun House (with Raymond Muszynski)
- Ravens' Craig, Plockton (own tower-house)
- Lyndale House, (restoration)
- Crionach House (New), Isle of Skye
- Law Castle and Couston Castle, both restorations
- The Secret Garden at the Witchery Restaurant, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, one of the top restaurants in the City.
In defence of Edinburgh
A constant fighter for maintenance and recognition of both the Old Town and the New Town of Edinburgh. Lived in both at different times and children went to school in Old Edinburgh. Appointed Interim Director of Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee when founded, and later, Interim Director of Edinburgh Old Town Committee for Conservation and Renewal.
Both these sites are now amalgamated as a World Heritage Site. Recent proposals in 2008 under the title Caltongate, thankfully now dropped, would have been disastrous for the Old Town. The scale of the architecture and character was so wrong for the site. Edinburgh must be much more aware of the great value of the architecture of the city. In old Edinburgh, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the local group 'SOOT' Save Our Old Town!
The castle in China and other recent projects
Several projects are of immediate interest. The first is building a Scottish Castle in China. This is a new winery and Chateau, part of a completely new vineyard in Shandong Province in NE China. Drawings were shown in the R.S.A. in Princes Street Edinburgh in 2006. The work is on site and entering the finishing stages. The work should be completed by summer 2009 with a grand opening in October.
The second was an invitation to be a panel/presenter at an International Symposium; Cultural Landscapes, Cultural Towns; held in New Harmony, Indiana USA, (related to New Lanark) This took place in November 2008 and tackled the crisis that has hit small towns all over mid America. The towns are dying.
Much closer to home, I have two private houses at Planning stage. One is a traditional Scots house on a beautiful west-coast site. The other is an informal timber split level house with winter garden and green roof among trees poised over a rock-face again on the west-coast.
Other areas of interestNeolithic stone ballsVery interested in the Scottish Neolithic carved stone balls, the most famous of which is the Towie stone ball found in Aberdeenshire. These, which are acknowledged to "show a sophistication in their grasp of forms that rivals that of the Greek mathematicians of 1,500 years later", (Colin Renfrew, Prof. Archaeology) almost certainly have a significance that is not yet appreciated. The individual person experimenting with solid geometry is possibly directly connected to our understanding of the earliest Scottish architecture. qv.
Strong interest in other arts. Published "The Drawings of Sydney Goodsir Smith, Poet" Collected by Ian Begg. Also took part several years running in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of a group giving readings from Scottish poetry, novels and illustrating drawing and painting.
Apart from many contributions to several journals on Architecture and Edinburgh, Published "A Guide to the New Town of Edinburgh" 1967 (Bicentenary of New Town). Contributed a chapter on Muckrach Castle in the book "Restoring Scotland's Castles" pub. John Smith, Glasgow University Bookshop; and the most important published piece on architecture is the contribution to the quality Japanese Magazine "a+u" Nov. 1997. Also see "L'Information Immobilieere No. 68 Printemps 1999 piece in French. Recently I have produced several maps as illustrations for books including Margaret Elphinstine's "Light" (Canongate) and Mary Contini's "Dear Olivia" (Canongate) which had several maps and a family tree, and a map of Central America for "Jungle Capitalists" by Peter Chapman, published in the USA.
My home, the house Ravens' Craig appears in the 'Coffee Table' book "Living in the Highlands" Published by Thames and Hudson 2000. In the write up of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland Study tour in May 2010 visiting the West Highlands and part of Skye, 50 members visited Ravens' Craig. We got a good crit. written by Tom Parnell............. "Our final day took us to Ian Begg's Ravens' Craig. I would admit that I was slightly apprehensive about this, but I fell in love with it. As a modern interpretation of a tower house, it works. Providing endless fascination with its many nooks and crannies, every space is used effectively and economically, in what must be an extremely complex section. It is a lot of fun, and I think we were all very comfortable indeed- so much so getting everyone back on the bus was a fair trial!"
Received a commendation in the Prix Européen d'Architecture Philippe Rotthier 2005.
The picture shows Ian (centre) with Architect Maurice Culot and Architect Philippe Rotthier atThe Fondation pour l'Architecture , Brussels Nov 2005.
Here is a short film clip from 1973.