Sir Basil Spence

Born 13 August 1907 in Bombay, India, Spence was educated in Edinburgh, where he also studied architecture. He continued his studies in London, where for a brief period he worked in Sir Edwin Luyten's office, ironically for the design of the Viceroy's House in New Delhi.

He returned to Edinburgh in 1930, working for a while at Rowand Anderson & Paul, then on his own. Typical projects were in housing and commercial buildings, as well as country houses. In 1951 he designed the Sea and Ships Pavilions for the Festival of Britain, marking perhaps the return of Britain from the trials of World War II.

Also in 1951 came his greatest success; winning a competition for the rebuilding of war-bombed Coventry Cathedral. This was completed in 1962, and won Spence widespread praise for his sensitive treatment; blending the ruins of the 14th century church with a monumental, richly-decorated modern treatment.

He was knighted in 1960, and from 1961-68 was Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy. Later works include Knightsbridge Barracks, London (1970), and the British Embassy, Rome (1971). Regarded by many as one of the leading British architects of the 20th century, Spence died at Eye, Suffolk, on 19 November 1976.