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Everyday Architecture


The Matthew Building, built in 1974, houses Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, known to most of us as DJCAD. Originally called the new Art College Building, but later named after the college’s principal, Chessor Matthew, DJCAD has evolved many times. First, called the Dundee Institute of Art & Technology, then during the 1930s, the Dundee Technical College and the School of Art were reorganised and became Dundee Institute of Art and Technology, the college became independent in 1975 and has been DJCAD ever since. The college remained independent until 1994, when it became (and continues to be) part of the University of Dundee Art and Architecture department – what a ride!

James Paul, of Baxter Clark and Paul, actually began working at the college in 1956, where he helped grow the Department of Architecture. One of Paul’s later designs was Tannadice Park stadium for Dundee United Football Club.

The Matthew Building is a significant example of Brutalist architecture in Scotland. Brutalism, developed between the 1950s and the 1970s, is known for the extensive use of concrete. This is functional but also sculptural, and can be used on a massive scale. The look of Brutalist buildings can be described as practical, almost industrial looking, where space is used as thriftily as possible. 

As with a lot of architectural buildings, many of the design features have reasons and context behind them. The protruding lines and cut-out shapes expose the concrete frame that holds the building up, this is usually hidden in other styles of architecture, but here, these features highlight the inside space. Using lots of glass means that as much of the available natural light as possible can be used inside the building. The building as a whole has subtle hints of ocean-liner shapes and images, with strong horizontal lines and the tall ventilator funnels on the roof. The quality of its design is shown by how thought-out the plans were and every morsel of available space of the confined site was used!

Research by Stephanie Crowe
Words by Poppy Jarratt
Illustration by Dana Ulama