Skip to main content
Select Source:

Spence, Sir Basil Urwin

Spence, Sir Basil Urwin (1907–76). British architect, born in India and educated in Scotland and London. He worked in the office of Lutyens for a brief period. He made his name when he won the competition for the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral, Warwicks. (1950–1), regarded as a symbol of Britain's reconstruction after the 1939–45 war. Spence had been Architect for the ‘Britain Can Make It’ Exhibition (1946–7) and for the Scottish Industries Exhibition (1949). He also designed the Sea and Ships Pavilion for the Festival of Britain South Bank Exhibition, London (1951). From that time he was able to build up a large and successful practice. Among his works were Undergraduate Residences, Queen's College, Cambridge (completed 1960), buildings for Liverpool and Southampton Universities (1960s), and the layout and first phase of Sussex University (1962–72). For the last he designed Falmer House, where he used arcuated forms derived from Le Corbusier's Maison Jaoul. He also designed the Library and Swimming-Centre, Hampstead Civic Centre, Swiss Cottage, London (1964), the Household-Cavalry Barracks, Knightsbridge, London (1970), and the British Embassy, Rome (1971), in all of which he tried to create a degree of monumentality. Spence's work brought contemporary architecture before the public, and his Coventry Cathedral enjoyed a degree of popularity. His work, however, seems hesitant in retrospect, owing something to Scandinavian sources, yet striving for a grandeur that eluded him, possibly because of reasons of scale, but perhaps more due to the poverty of the Modern Movement's architectural language. He was a gifted draughtsman and artist.

Bibliography

L. Campbell (1996);
B. Edwards (1995);
Kalman (1994);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Spence (1964, 1973);
Spence et al. (1964);
Spence & and Snoek (1963);
Jane Turner (1996)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Spence, Sir Basil Urwin." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Spence, Sir Basil Urwin." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spence-sir-basil-urwin

"Spence, Sir Basil Urwin." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Retrieved February 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/spence-sir-basil-urwin

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Spence, Sir Basil Urwin

Spence, Sir Basil Urwin (1907–76). Scottish architect who leapt to prominence with his prize-winning design for Coventry cathedral (1951; completed 1962) which brought together such artists as Geoffrey Clarke, Jacob Epstein, Elisabeth Frink, John Hutton, John Piper, Patrick Reyntiens, and Graham Sutherland. Spence trained at Edinburgh College of Art, worked for Lutyens on the Viceroy's House, New Delhi, in 1929–30, and practised in Edinburgh during the 1930s. Spence designed the Sea and Ships Pavilion at the Festival of Britain in 1951, and with partners undertook extensive university work at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Southampton, Sussex, and elsewhere. His other buildings include churches, housing, schools, and the chancery at the British embassy, Rome (1971). Spence was a gifted designer and draughtsman, with a powerful belief in the creative role of the architect, and his architecture was often picturesque—as at Mortonhall crematorium, Edinburgh (1967), set in a rolling landscape and calling to mind Gunnar Asplund's Woodland Crematorium, Stockholm. Like Lutyens before him, Spence was knighted and held the Order of Merit.

Peter Willis

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Spence, Sir Basil Urwin." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Spence, Sir Basil Urwin." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spence-sir-basil-urwin

"Spence, Sir Basil Urwin." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spence-sir-basil-urwin

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Spence, Sir Basil

Spence, Sir Basil (1907–76) English architect. Spence is best-known for his modernist design of the new Coventry Cathedral (1951, consecrated in 1962). Other works include the Household Cavalry Barracks (1970) at Knightsbridge, London, and the British Embassy, Rome (1971).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Spence, Sir Basil." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Spence, Sir Basil." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spence-sir-basil

"Spence, Sir Basil." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spence-sir-basil

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.