Basic Biographical Details

Name: Euan Kidston Colam
Designation: Architect
Born: 1932
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:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 7Alva Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1960s * working for RMJM
Item 2 of 7Hill Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1960s * working for RMJM
Item 3 of 713|15|17, South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1960s * working for RMJM
Item 4 of 731, Regent Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1960 * working for RMJM
Item 5 of 7Rosebank Cottage, Old Philipstoun, West Lothian, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1960After 1970 
Item 6 of 7St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessLate 1960s * working for RMJM
Item 7 of 76, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1971 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.


Employment and Training

Employers

The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 5Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)c. 1957  Worked part-time for one year while studying at ECA.
Item 2 of 5Bank of Scotland Architect's Department19581960Architect 
Item 3 of 5Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall (RMJM)1 April 19601961Architect 
Item 4 of 5Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM)19611986Architect 
Item 5 of 5(Sir) Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd19891999(?)Architect 

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 121960University of Edinburgh, David Hume Tower (Arts Building) and redevelopment of George Square  Edinburgh, MidlothianScotlandAs assistant architect with RMJM.
Item 2 of 121965Royal Commonwealth Pool  EdinburghScotlandAs architect with RMJM. Project architect
Item 3 of 121970University of Stirling, including library and landscapingStirling StirlingshireScotlandWorked 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.
Item 4 of 121970University of Stirling, Teaching Building (unidentified)Stirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 5 of 121971University of Stirling, MacRobert Arts CentreStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 6 of 121972Bottle ExchangeDean Village EdinburghScotlandConversion of derelict bottle works into office for practice.
Item 7 of 121975Edinburgh Airport  EdinburghScotlandProject architect, with John Richards
Item 8 of 121979International Business Machines (IBM) FactoryGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandAs Project Manager
Item 9 of 121986St Enoch Centre  GlasgowScotlandSite architect (freelance)
Item 10 of 121990Royal Bank of ScotlandThe Gyle EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 121993Standard Life House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 12 of 12Early 1990sBuchanan Galleries, Buchanan Street  GlasgowScotlandDesign manager. With McAlpine. May have worked on an unrealised part of the project.

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 6Allen, Nic (ed.) Scottish Architects in Conservation  p77
Item 2 of 6Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp16, p165-7 George Square redevelopment - Arts Tower
p29,39,86,116,125-9,164,185 Royal Commonwealth Pool
Item 3 of 6Glendinning, Miles2008Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew RIBA Publishingp257,292-3
Item 4 of 6Miles Glendinning, Diane Watters, David Whitham Docomomo Scotland Leaflet  Cover, p231 Royal Commonwealth Pool
Item 5 of 6Municipal Annual1964Scottish Municipal Annual1964-1965  
Item 6 of 6Willis, Peter1977New architecture in Scotland  p52-55 University of Stirling
p76-9 Royal Commonwealth Pool

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Euan ColamInterview of Euan Colam by Kirsten McKee 3 December 2008