Scotland inspired: Malcolm Fraser
Who and what has shaped some of Scotland's most creative minds?
BBC Scotland has launched a major series - Scotland Inspired - tracing Scotland's artistic family tree, with prominent figures choosing Scots who have inspired them.
Malcolm Fraser is one of the most inventive and exciting architects working in Scotland.
His work, particularly in Edinburgh, combines sensitivity to the historic environment with imagination and contemporary flair.
He is the Geddes Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture.
|PATRICK GEDDES - Town Planner; biologist; sociologist (1854-1932)||MALCOLM FRASER SAYS|
"Patrick Geddes did most of his great work in Edinburgh.
"Geddes is really an astonishing way to look at building, to look at cities, to look at place.
"He was a botanist by trade and when he came to look at cities he regarded them as ecosystems, not as building blocks.
"Traditionally urbanists think of blocks - you put down a church, you put down housing and that's it finished. It is an extraordinary mistake to think of it like this.
"Geddes thinks of an ecosystem - if a forest gets warmer, some things die and some things grow, things change. The way we live in an ecosystem changes.
"It's all about communications and to look at a city as something where things grow and die - what stays same? What changes, as time goes past. How do we live in a place differently? Can it adapt?
"People misunderstand him as a conservationist and use him to say 'You can't do anything here, it has to look all the same'.
"Geddes's key concept was conservative surgery. He talked about "letting light in".
"Sometimes you do need to take some buildings out, a block out, make a garden, let the sun shine in. Those were things he understood completely."
ST COLUMBA'S KIRK (built 1592)
MALCOLM FRASER SAYS
"I'm continually astonished by St Columba's kirk in Burntisland (Fife).
"What an astonishing way it brings together so many things I care about.
"It's 1592 or something and it's really the primary post-Reformation building in Scotland.
"At its heart the best of it had the idea of primacy of the Word and the Word shared - a very democratic thing.
"It was against the hierarchies and the caste system that religion can impose.
"It showed the best of religion in how the democratic nature of the Word was so significant.
"It's no accident that King James VI proclaimed from St Columba's that he was going to commission a King James bible, the democratic nature of the Word shared.
"It's a kind of funny looking building. It is odd, almost like an enormous cottage, a vernacular-looking thing with a wonderful tower in the middle.
"It was designed for how people hear the Word. It is all about participation.
"It has a balcony. That was for sailors to leave in middle of service to catch the rising tide.
"There's no point in being religious and reading the bible if nobody can go out fishing and earning living. It put the right things first.
"And then most beautifully in the middle, above the pulpit, instead of a statue of Jesus Christ in agony on the cross, it's got a rigged model of the great Michael, at one time greatest warship in world, built in Newhaven, and sunk nearby.
"The sailors were rescued by the congregation so they made this model as a thank-you.
"Just as a metaphor for how you reach heaven, instead of gazing on Christ you gaze on this fully rigged ship, to elevate you, to lift you above the world - it's just a wonderful thing. It's a fantastic building."
IAN HAMILTON FINLAY Artist; Poet (1926-2006)
MALCOLM FRASER SAYS
"I worked with Ian Hamilton Finlay at Little Sparta and helped others build parts of it, and built some of it with Ian - just a lovely time.
"Ian, to others, seemed a very forbidding figure but he was just a good friend.
"We'd sit round the fire with him of an evening and talk about Schopenhauer and then Dundee United and drinking strong tea.
"There's a huge amount to learn from a man with as much knowledge and as much passion and fight in him as he had.
"I suppose in end working with Ian you learn the beauty of concision and how to make the most beautiful, resonant simple thing tell the most about a place and bring the most things together.
"And Ian just did that very beautifully.
"Little Sparta is a fabulous art work. It is a great neoclassical garden which Ian built in the most unpromising of places, south of Pentlands, way up there in the snell of wind.
"It's built in homage to Greek gods, to French revolutionaries, to Spartan ideals, to the things he cared about which he saw as basis of civilisation.
"He really considered we do not think enough about Western civilisation and its virtues and its vices.
"What I learnt from Ian and Geddes is that there is no excuse for not being deterministic about those important things in our build environment such as sunshine and an opportunity to meet our friends and neighbours.
"The sooner we learn to be that the more we will build the conservation areas of tomorrow or places for us to live healthy, well-connected, richer lives."