Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Euan Kidston Colam |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: || |
|Died: || |
|Bio Notes: ||Euan Kidston Colam was born in 1932 and spent his early years near Boat of Garten, moving to Helensburgh in 1940 at the start of the war to live with his grandmother. He attended primary school in Helensburgh and was a boarder at Loretto School, Musselburgh from 1946 until October 1950 when he was called up for two years national service at the age of 18. He was posted to Libya for a year as part of his service. |
Having resolved at the age of 10 or 11 that he would become an architect, he studied architecture at Edinburgh College of Art from 1952 to 1958. His research thesis was on small housing, and he worked part-time in housing at the Edinburgh City Architect's Department for a year to finance his education.
After graduating, Colam gained practical experience with the Bank of Scotland, working on branch office alteration projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh. He was elected ARIBA in 1960. He joined Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall (RMJM) on 1 April 1960. At the time he joined, there were some 30 people in the firm, and the practice’s swift growth led to frequent moves of office as additional properties around Edinburgh were found to house the new apprentices and employees.
By 1964 he had become a representative of the Edinburgh chapter of the RIAS.
At RMJM, he worked under John Richards. He recalls that Matthew's working method - 'to find people that he really trusted to take charge of the work and give them a lot of responsibility for getting on with it' - meant that he rarely came into direct contact with Matthew himself, whom he always addressed as Sir Robert. He credits Richards as his key mentor: 'I learnt everything I know about architecture from John Richards. He wasn't I think a great intuitive designer, but he wanted everything that he worked on to be really good, and he expected everyone else to live with that. Of course he didn't always get the right answer at first shot and it could be a struggle ... but it was worth the drama to get the right results! He was not just my main influence, he was my only influence I suppose on the architectural design side.'
The first major RMJM project he worked on was the University of Edinburgh’s David Hume Tower. While he had no design input on this, he was charged with a significant amount of detailing for the next project, the Royal Commonwealth Pool, which would be the work of which he was most proud. Always keenly interested in the management side of the profession, Colam was given the task of overseeing construction of Stirling University, in order to ensure it adhered to the extremely tight time frame that had been set for it. Influenced in their design by the University of East Anglia, the teaching buildings opened on schedule in 1970, and the library a few months after the students had arrived. He recalls the hair-raising experience of finishing the accommodation blocks: 'We had students moving in before we had a certificate of occupancy. We had tremendous help from the county master of works, who was brilliant. He was on site with us three times that day and he made clear exactly what he needed to be done, and we finally got the temporary certificate for the buliding about 6 o'clock in the evening - at which time the students had already fully occupied - so what would have happened if we couldn't have done it, I don't know. We went straight to the pub after that!' After Stirling, he worked on the Edinburgh airport terminal, for which the practice was firmly instructed to design a low-ceilinged structure; this has since been altered beyond recognition.
He left RMJM in 1986 and worked for three years on the St Enoch Centre, Glasgow as a freelance site architect before joining Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd, who were construction managers for the St Enoch Centre, to work as design manager on projects such as the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters and offices for Standard Life.
Colam retired in 1999. Since his retirement, he has worked on restoring his A-listed home, bought in 1971.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Alva Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1960s *|| ||working for RMJM|
|Hill Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1960s *|| ||working for RMJM|
|13|15|17, South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1960s *|| ||working for RMJM|
|31, Regent Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1960 *|| ||working for RMJM|
|Rosebank Cottage, Old Philipstoun, West Lothian, Scotland||Private||Before 1964||After 1970|| |
|St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||Late 1960s *|| ||working for RMJM|
|6, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||1987 *|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
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 started||Building name||Town, district or village||Island||City or county||Country||Notes|
|1960||University of Edinburgh, David Hume Tower (Arts Building) and redevelopment of George Square|| || ||Edinburgh, Midlothian||Scotland||As assistant architect with RMJM.|
|1965||Royal Commonwealth Pool|| || ||Edinburgh||Scotland||As architect with RMJM. Project architect|
|1970||University of Stirling, including library and landscaping||Stirling|| ||Stirlingshire||Scotland||Worked on the central area including a section of the teaching buildings, the library, the MacRobert Centre, the first stage of the community facilities and the shops, the residences.|
|1970||University of Stirling, Teaching Building (unidentified)||Stirling|| ||Stirlingshire||Scotland|| |
|1971||University of Stirling, MacRobert Arts Centre||Stirling|| ||Stirlingshire||Scotland|| |
|1972||Bottle Exchange||Dean Village|| ||Edinburgh||Scotland||Conversion of derelict bottle works into office for practice.|
|1975||Edinburgh Airport|| || ||Edinburgh||Scotland||Project architect, with John Richards|
|1979||International Business Machines (IBM) Factory||Greenock|| ||Renfrewshire||Scotland||As Project Manager|
|1986||St Enoch Centre|| || ||Glasgow||Scotland||Site architect (freelance)|
|1990||Royal Bank of Scotland||The Gyle|| ||Edinburgh||Scotland|| |
|1993||Standard Life House|| || ||Edinburgh||Scotland|| |
|Early 1990s||Buchanan Galleries, Buchanan Street|| || ||Glasgow||Scotland||Design manager. With McAlpine. May have worked on an unrealised part of the project.|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Allen, Nic (ed.)|| ||Scottish Architects in Conservation|| || ||p77|
|Glendinning, Miles||1997||Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75 || ||Tuckwell Press Ltd||p16, p165-7 George Square redevelopment - Arts Tower|
p29,39,86,116,125-9,164,185 Royal Commonwealth Pool
|Glendinning, Miles||2008||Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew|| ||RIBA Publishing||p257,292-3|
|Miles Glendinning, Diane Watters, David Whitham|| ||Docomomo Scotland Leaflet|| || ||Cover, p231 Royal Commonwealth Pool|
|Municipal Annual||1964||Scottish Municipal Annual||1964-1965|| || |
|Willis, Peter||1977||New architecture in Scotland|| || ||p52-55 University of Stirling|
p76-9 Royal Commonwealth Pool
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Courtesy of Euan Colam||Interview of Euan Colam by Kirsten McKee|| ||3 December 2008|