Every now and then, a building design emerges which is considered so iconic, so beautiful, or so important in terms of understanding the underlying principles of architecture from any given period that efforts are made to preserve it for the good of those to come. Such is the case with Perth’s Pitheavlis Building, also known as the Aviva Building in reference to its current occupants, which was recently awarded the protection of a Category A listing by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

The building, built circa 1983 as part of the city’s western expansion, was proposed for listed status by an unnamed member of the public, with HES noting the modernist structure as “among the finest of Scotland’s commercial office buildings of its period”.

Elizabeth McCrone, head of designations at HES, said of the building’s newly-awarded listing, “The Aviva Building is a fascinating example of high quality office architecture from the early 1980s. It was carefully designed to fit unobtrusively into its surroundings and its landscaped rooftop gardens and large windows were ahead of their time.

“Particular attention was paid to some of the interior spaces with expensive rosewood used in the boardroom and marble in the bathrooms.

“In this instance, the building was proposed by a private individual, and, as with all listing cases, we consulted the local authority and the building owners during our assessment of the site.

“It joins an elite group of buildings in Scotland which are listed at category A to recognise their national importance.”

Features of note include two bespoke stainless steel abstract sculptures located at either side of the main entrance porch, which were created by Glasgow-born sculptor and artist George Wyllie. Set into the surrounding hillside, the building also makes clever use of rooftop gardens and extensive connected landscaping to craft a visually-pleasing aesthetic that also contributes to the general happiness, wellbeing and, by extension, performance of those working within.

A spokeswoman for Aviva commented, “We are pleased that the Aviva Pitheavlis building in Perth has been recognised as being of special architectural importance and therefore given a listing at the highest level.

“It is an iconic building for the local area, with around 1,000 employees and Aviva has been operating in it since 1983.”

Additional details as to the motivation to award the building a Category A listing were provided in the official report, which read as follows:

“Designed and built between 1979 and 1983, the Aviva UK Insurance Building (the former General Accident headquarters) at Pitheavlis on the outskirts of Perth is among the finest of Scotland’s commercial office buildings of its period.

“It is distinguished by its construction techniques and planning, thorough attention to detail, and its high quality material specifications.

“It is among the best of a small number of major headquarter office buildings in Scotland which provided working areas in flexible modules, using stepped plan forms to connect buildings with their green-field landscapes.

“The use of roof top gardens, merging the building further with the hillside, is a sensitive response to its wider suburban green-field setting. Artwork, both internal and external, is integral to the design ethos, adding further to the special interest of the building.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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