Flats at Ravelston, Edinburgh

Watercolour on paper, 1935
James W Hills (1907-1974)
RCAHMS: RIAS Collection

This watercolour sums up many of the lifestyle aspirations of fashionable middle class residents during the interwar years. Flats became increasingly popular as homes, especially for young city-dwellers. The image embodies their desire for stylish living, entwined with sociable enjoyment of the sunshine.

The flats at Ravelston Gardens were designed by the architect Norman Neil in 1935, during his time with the Neil and Hurd partnership. Neil absorbed many of the ideas of contemporary European architecture, conceiving these flats to capture the spirit of the Moderne style.

Three identical blocks, each forming a butterfly plan, were built to contain 16 flats.

The apartments were known as the Jenners Flats, due to the Edinburgh department store that acted as the managing agents. The flats were not just modern, but luxurious, with interconnecting apartments and conveniences such as internal lifts.