Gordon was a qualified Gas Fitter and was already self employed. Steve was in his final year at Edinburgh University and newly married. They set up 'Inscape Plumbing and Joinery' and began work installing central heating systems, converting bathrooms and kitchens and doing pretty much anything else they were asked to do, work being quite scarce. No job was too small and they were once contacted via an 'Edinburgh Evening News' advertisement and asked to repair a standard lamp that had been made from an old car steering wheel and a length of steel tubing - glory days!
Marion Blytheman was a mutual client of Jake (the plumber) and Steve's. One day she asked Steve if he knew of an architect with "a bit of imagination" for a garden room she was planning to add on to her Ferry Road home. Richard Murphy produced the plans for the award winning and ground breaking extension at Inverleith Avenue, Edinburgh and he asked Steve and Donald if they fancied building it.
This was Inscapes' first serious building project and without a great deal of experience on this scale Steve and Donald were joined by Gordon Cox. Together they carried out all the work themselves. Only the stonework, plastering and leadwork was subcontracted. The plasterer, Kevin Todd later joined the firm. This job was the bench mark for future projects and the lack of experience meant that disappearing corners, shadow gaps and bespoke sliding folding glazing and the like were seen as the norm. Inscape has never made a problem out of an idea.
As time moves on Inscape has worked with Richard Murphy Architects on dozens of projects culminating in 2016 when they built the house Richard designed for himself on Hart Street, which was voted the RIBA and Grand Designs house of the year in 2016. They have worked with many of Scotland's new breed of young contemporary architects and they have received 10 RIBA awards, three times being shortlisted as builder of the best building in Britain in 1995, 1997 and in 2002.
A Potted History
Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith
The partnership lasted a year or two before the partners amicably went their separate ways. Steve carried on in business as "Inscape Joinery" and with a £500 loan from the Bank of Scotland bought a little blue van.
Workshop Door Sign from circa 1985, Windsor Street
One day while fitting a kitchen for client Ian Wall in Marchmont, Edinburgh he met Donald McLean Logan. Donald was working with a plumber called Jake (Jake the plumber!) Soon after Steve and Donald began an association that lasted for 16 years until Donald died suddenly aged 50.
The now renowned architect was teaching at Edinburgh University, he had produced plans for the conversion of Donald and Linda Greens' home in Waverly Place, Edinburgh and he agreed to produce a retrospective building warrant for Steve's impetuous demolition of a couple of walls in his Maryfield flat.
As the business developed they opened their own workshops, first in a council unit near Slateford where they produced award winning work building the Bedbox for Oliver Chapman Architects and later they built an 11 metre long Shelter for the Tiree Arts Centre designed by Sutherland and Hussey Architects. The Shelter won the RIAS Prize as Scotland's Best Building in 2003.
In January 2003 Inscape moved its Offices and its Workshops out to Dalkeith about 12 miles south of Edinburgh. Into premises on the grounds, of all places, Newbattle Abbey College, which is where this story began.
Inscape Joinery began in business in the summer of 1983. It was first set up in partnership with Steve Evans and Gordon Lawrence both former students of Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith where they met.
Donald had originally been trained as an engineer in Ferranti. His work was meticulous and his patience was unending. It was this association that set the ground rules for Inscape and it was through Donald that Steve was introduced to the Architect Richard Murphy.