Basic Biographical Details

Name: Egon Riss
Designation: Architect
Born: 3 August 1901
Died: 20 March 1964
Bio Notes: Egon Riss was born in Austria in 1901. He was of Jewish descent. He was educated in Vienna and completed his studies at the Weiner Technische Hochschule (the Vienna Institute of Technology and Science) in 1923, but at some point in his early career studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar where he became acquainted with Oskar Kokoschka and Paul Klee. He quickly established a reputation by winning a competition for a clinic and health insurance office, followed by a number of other public buildings and private houses of advanced design. He also designed structures in the Silesian coalfields and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Lainz, completed 1931. From 1924 he was an elected member of 'ZV' (Zentral Vereinigung der Architekten Osterreich) and from 1936 a member of the Behordlich Beeideter Zivilarchitekt (the Chamber of Engineers Section for Consultants).

In the 1930s, Riss produced a plan for the centre of Vienna, the principles of which were later adopted, and represented Austria on the Building Council of the League of Nations Sub-Committee for hospital buildings and as a member of the Chamber but in 1938 he had to flee to Britain via Prague to avoid arrest. He was interned in 1939 but the RIBA intervened on his behalf. He was recruited first into the Auxilary Military Pioneer Corps, and then transferred to the Royal Engineers as a sapper. While stationed at Lockerbie he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. At the end of the war, he was briefly on the staff of the Architectural Association in London and in the office of Robert Furneaux-Jordan. He was elected FRIBA on 27 November 1949. his proposers being Robert Furneaux Jordan, R E Southorn and Anthony M Fintry.

After the war he obtained a post with the Miners' Welfare Fund from which he transferred in 1947 to the National Coal Board's Scottish Division as Chief Production Architect. He was responsible for the monumental modernist structures of the new pits at Bilston Glen, completed 1952, Killoch, 1953 and Rothes, 1957, all with tall rectangular winding towers. He died on 20 March 1964: his pits at Seafield and Monktonhall were not completed until after his death. He was survived by his two daughters.

Some biographical details came from John Rochards who worked under Egon Riss at the Coal Board.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Vienna, AustriaPrivate/business   
Item 2 of 5Sherwood House, Munro Drive, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate19471964 
Item 3 of 5National Coal Board Offices, London, EnglandBusiness1949 *  
Item 4 of 516, Wessex Gardens, London, EnglandPrivatec. 1949  
Item 5 of 5Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1950s In Coal Board offices

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3National Coal Board, Scottish Division1947 Architect 
Item 2 of 3Miners' Welfare Committee (or Miners' Welfare Commission), Mines Department, (National Coal Board Divisional Welfare)Before 1947 Architect 
Item 3 of 3Robert Furneaux Jordanc. 1949 Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Anthony M Fintry20 July 1949For Fellowship
Item 2 of 3Robert Furneaux Jordan20 July 1949For Fellowship
Item 3 of 3R E Southern (or Sothorn)20 July 1949For Fellowship

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 10 Bilston Glen Colliery  MidlothianScotland 
Item 2 of 101947National Coal Board, Scottish Area HQGilmerton EdinburghScotlandRendered addtions to Victorian mansion
Item 3 of 101947Rothes Pithead ComplexThornton Fife  
Item 4 of 101949Rothes CollieryMarkinch (near) FifeScotlandWith the Fife Coal Company
Item 5 of 101950sNational Coal Board OfficesLugar, Cumnock AyrshireScotlandAs chief architect to the Coal Board
Item 6 of 101951Kinneil CollieryBo'Ness   Alterations to earlier colliery for the NCB
Item 7 of 101952Killoch CollieryOchiltree AyrshireScotland 
Item 8 of 101953Monktonhall CollieryMusselburgh Mid LothianScotland 
Item 9 of 10c. 1959Seafield CollieryKirkcaldy FifeScotland 
Item 10 of 101963National Coal Board OfficesLugar, Cumnock AyrshireScotlandExtension


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin and Walker, David M1984Edinburgh (The Buildings of Scotland) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltdp583
Item 2 of 3Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp18-19, 20-21, 152, 168
Item 3 of 3Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp69

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder27 March 1964  p641 - obituary
Item 2 of 2RIBA JournalMay 1964 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F no 4491 (Combined Box 17)