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Who was Elisabeth Scott?

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As architect Elisabeth Scott is announced as one of two women in the UK’s new passport designs, the AJ takes a look at her work

Born in 1898, Scott came from an architectural dynasty. Her second cousin was the architect of Battersea Power Station Giles Gilbert Scott and she was the great niece of George Gilbert Scott, the designer of the Midland Hotel at St Pancras Station.

Scott was one of the first women to train at the Architectural Association after it started admitting them onto its courses in 1917.

She gained her diploma in 1924 and in 1928 became one of the first female architects to win a major architectural competition in the UK.

Her success in the competition for Stratford’s Shakespeare Theatre heralded a change for women working in architecture in the UK during that period.

Scott’s practice, with partners John Shepherd, Maurice Chesterton and John  Breakwell, went on to build schemes for Marie Curie Hospital and Newham College in Cambridge.

She joined the Bournemouth Town Council architects’ department in the late 1950s and although largely forgotten after the success of her earlier career, Scott practiced until she was 70.

Key projects:

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Renovation

 Scott won a competition to design the new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1929 after the original building was destroyed by fire three years before.

After winning the competition Scott and her colleague Maurice Chesterton were encouraged by the client to spend a year researching modern theatre design, and this resulted in her touring Germany to see the latest schemes.

The art deco theatre opened in 1932 with more than 100,000 coming to see the Prince of Wales open the building.  

The brick building was listed in 1971 and in 2010 Bennetts Associates completed a refurbishment of the theatre replacing Scott’s original main auditorium with a 1,000-seat thrust stage.

Pier Theatre, Bournemouth

The Pier Theatre, Bournemouth by Elisabeth Scott

Scott designed the Pier Theatre while working as an architect at Bournemouth Council.

The building, which opened in 1960, was designed to look like an ocean liner.

Located two thirds of the way down the pier, the theatre features a barrel vaulted copper roof.

The theatre closed in 2013.

Other projects by Scott

  • Marie Curie Hospital, Hampstead
  • Fawcett Building, Newham College, Cambridge
  • School at Henley on Thames in Oxon
  • School in Northallerton, Yorkshire
  • Pavilion on Boscombe Pier
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