Basic Biographical Details

Name: (Professor) Charles Calthorpe Robertson
Designation: Architect
Born: 18 September 1928
Bio Notes: Charles Calthorpe Robertson was born on 18 September 1928. He commenced his architectural training in July 1945 as an apprentice with the Architects Department of Arbroath Town Council while studying part-time at Dundee College of Art. His training was interrupted by war service and he spent two years in the Royal Artillery in 1946-8. In September 1948 he returned to the full time course at the School of Architecture at Dundee College of Art. After gaining his diploma in 1952, he worked initially for Carver Symon & Ross in Brechin but moved to the practice of Thoms & Wilkie of Dundee in February 1953 as an Assistant Architect covering housing and industrial work. He was admitted ARIBA and ARIAS in 1953.

In 1954 he became an Assistant Architect responsible for primary schools at Essex County Council, before moving back to Dundee in 1955 to take up the position of Senior Architect in the practice of William Mollison Wilson, leading industrial, housing and cinema projects. The following year, Robertson joined Sir Basil Spence & Partners, spending the majority of his time in the Edinburgh office (and one and a half years in the London office), working on projects such as Thurso Secondary School; the Physics Building at King’s College, Newcastle; and Gorbals developments in Glasgow.

Robertson left Spence’s practice in 1962 to become deputy director of the University of Edinburgh’s Housing Research Unit (later Architecture Research Unit) (HRU/ARU). He was promoted to director in 1965. During the decade spent in this capacity, Professor Robertson was very active both within the School of the Built Environment and externally in bodies relating to housing and architecture. He led a staff of 33, 21 architects, 2 sociologists, 1 quantity surveyor and 9 administrative staff.

Robertson also engaged in research as an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Edinburgh (1964-72) and as a consultant to Sir Robert Matthew in 1970-72, leading a multi-disciplinary research team recruited from RMJM and the ARU for the development of a large suburban area of Tripoli in Libya. He was elevated to Fellow of the RIBA and RIAS in 1968. By that time he was a member of the RIBA Housing Group (1966-72, convening it from 1970); RIBA/RIAS representative on the Scottish Committee of the National House Builders Registration Council (1967-72) and member of its Technical Sub-Committee; and a member of the Scottish Working Party on Component Performance (1968-72, chairing it from 1970).

Between 1972 and 1977, Robertson held the position of Professor of Architecture and Department Chairman in the Department of Architecture and Building at the University of Melbourne. He was admitted Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in the year of his arrival in Australia. While there, he joined or chaired a variety of internal and external boards and committees relating to architecture, housing and education, being instrumental, for example, in the establishment of the Centre for Environmental Studies at the university, as well as being involved in the inspection and accreditation of educational schools and departments and undertaking external examining and assessment for different architectural courses or competitions.

Professor Robertson returned to Scotland in 1977 and took up the post of Chief Executive of the National Building Agency (NBA), a government-sponsored technical advisory and consultancy agency which worked to encourage the introduction of more productive and efficient methods of building and to help implement government policies in relation to housing and the construction industry. This involved undertaking studies and research projects for government departments, building clients, manufacturers, contractors and the professions.

After the NBA was disbanded in 1982, Robertson founded the Charles Robertson Partnership, the objective of which was to pursue a high standard of design by employing well-proven building techniques and exploring new ones. When the Partnership was dissolved in 1990, Robertson formed a new practice on his own, Professor Charles Robertson Architect Ltd, to develop work and research with energy efficient housing. Since 1986, Robertson had also been a part-time Professor at the University of Strathclyde and was appointed Professor Emeritus in 1993.

In addition to being involved in an extensive range of public and professional activities throughout his career, Professor Robertson was awarded an OBE in 1995.

Book reviews and Annual Housing Review in the Municipal Year Book, 1963 and 1964.
'Gorbals Redevelopment' Ekistics 1968
'Courtyard Houses, Inchview, Prestonpans' (ARU, April 1966)
'The Right Housing', New Society 17 November 1966.
'Heating Installations at Border Farm Site, Saltcoats' (ARU, December 1966)
'An Extension to the Department of Zoology, University of Edinburgh' (ARU, April 1968)
'Gorbals Redevelopment' Ekistics 1968
'Privacy and Courtyard Housing' (ARU, August 1968)
'Dimensional Co-Ordination' (ARU, August 1968)
'Decisions Affecting the Design of Five Point Blocks' (ARU, 1968)
'Low Rise High Density Housing Study' (ARU, June 1970)
'Aspects of Traffic Separated Housing Layouts (ARU, June 1970)
'Thermal Insulation and House Modernisation' (Scottish Office)
'The Effectiveness of Insulation', with Professor T Marcus (Edinburgh District Council)

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 123, Ladyloan, Arbroath, Angus, ScotlandPrivate1953 *  

* 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 8Thoms & Wilkie19521954Assistant Architect 
Item 2 of 8Essex County Council19541955Assistant Architect 
Item 3 of 8William Mollison Wilson19551956Senior ArchitectProject leader
Item 4 of 8Basil Spence & Partners19561962Senior Architect 
Item 5 of 8Edinburgh University Housing Research Unit (HRU) / Architecture Research Unit (ARU)19621972DirectorDepute Director in 1962 and Director from 1963
Item 6 of 8National Building Agency19771982DirectorExecutive Director
Item 7 of 8The Charles Robertson Partnership19821990Partner 
Item 8 of 8Professor Charles Robertson Architects Ltd19901995  

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2Steven Aldridge1978 *   
Item 2 of 2James AndersonEarly 1970s Architect 

* earliest date known from documented sources.


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Peter Scott Ferguson5 June 1968For Fellowship
Item 2 of 6Andrew Gilmour5 June 1968For Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Robert Hogg Matthew5 June 1968For Fellowship
Item 4 of 6John Needham5 May 1953For Associateship
Item 5 of 6Donald (F?) Ross5 May 1953For Associateship
Item 6 of 6Thomas Hill Thoms5 May 1953For Associateship

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 401958Thurso High SchoolThurso CaithnessScotland 
Item 2 of 401960sBuilding Research StationEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotland 
Item 3 of 401960s(?)Glasgow (Abbotsinch) Airportnr Paisley RenfrewshireScotlandCarried out background research
Item 4 of 401960sKing's College, University of Durham, Physics Department  Newcastle-upon-TyneEngland 
Item 5 of 401960sKirkcudbright Railway StationKirkcudbright KirkcudbrightshireScotlandRedevelopment as 50 dwellings
Item 6 of 401960sMulti-storey housing, Little Green Lanes and Court Lane, Sutton ColdfieldSutton Coldfield Birmingham, West MidlandsEnglandAs Director of HRU / ARU
Item 7 of 401960sPark 3 West Housing (West View)Cumbernauld LanarkshireScotland 
Item 8 of 401965Flats, Ellor Street Redevelopment, PendletonSalford Greater ManchesterEnglandAs Director of ARU
Item 9 of 401968Mid-rise housing, Peacock Street  SunderlandEnglandAs Director of HRU/ARU
Item 10 of 40April 1968University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Department of ZoologyMayfield EdinburghScotlandLaboratory for Department of Zoology - as Director of ARU
Item 11 of 401969FlatsSalford LancashireEnglandAs Director
Item 12 of 401969Flats and courtyard housesCumbernauld LanarkshireScotlandAs Director
Item 13 of 40Late 1960s or early 1970sJuniper Street housingTower Hamlets LondonEnglandAs Director of ARU
Item 14 of 401970Industrialised Building Project (IBP) housing projectGurgi Tripoli (near)Libyaas consultant to RMJM
Item 15 of 401970Laboratory for BRS (British Road Services?)East Kilbride LanarkshireScotlandAs Director
Item 16 of 401970St Mary's Street housingKirkcudbright KirkcudbrightshireScotlandAs Director of ARU
Item 17 of 401971Flats for the City of SalfordSalford LancashireEnglandAs Director of ARU
Item 18 of 401972Baird HallLinlithgow West LothianScotlandConversion of church hall to dwelling house
Item 19 of 401973Housing for Kirkcudbright Town CouncilKirkcudbright KirkcudbrighthsireScotlandAs director of ARU
Item 20 of 401973Laboratory building for the MRC  EdinburghScotland 
Item 21 of 401973Laboratory for DOEEast Craigs EdinburghScotland 
Item 22 of 401973Mid-rise housing, Flaxman RoadLambeth LondonEnglandAs Director of ARU
Item 23 of 401978Anderson InstituteLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandUpgrade of premises to provide classroom and library
Item 24 of 401980sScottish Co-operative Wholesale Society (SCWS)Leith EdinburghScotlandUnexecuted proposals for conversion into offices (aborted at tender stage)
Item 25 of 401980Crichton HousePathhead MidlothianScotlandRestoration
Item 26 of 40After 1982Further Education InstituteLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 27 of 40After 1982Housing for East Motherwell Housing AssociationWishaw LanarkshireScotland 
Item 28 of 40After 1982Housing for Scottish Special Housing AssociationGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 29 of 40After 1982Housing for Scottish Special Housing Association  GlasgowScotland 
Item 30 of 40After 1982Housing for the physically handicapped   Scotland 
Item 31 of 40After 1982Housing upgradingDalmarnock GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 40After 1982Housing upgradingShawlands GlasgowScotland 
Item 33 of 40After 1982Housing upgrading, Acre Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 40After 1982Johnstone Castle SchemeJohnstone RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 35 of 40After 1982Lennox CastleLennoxtown StirlingshireScotlandWard units
Item 36 of 40After 1982Ward Units for the Mentally HandicappedLarbert StirlingshireScotland 
Item 37 of 401983Templeton's Carpet Factory  GlasgowScotlandRestoration and conversion to offices.
Item 38 of 40Early 1980sJohn Player FactoryStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 39 of 40After 1982Lounge and changing accommodation for Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society  Edinburgh, MidlothianScotland 
Item 40 of 40c. 1967Road Research Laboratory, CraigshillLivingston West LothianScotlandAs Director of ARU


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Allen, Nic (ed.) Scottish Architects in Conservation  p97
Item 2 of 2Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp97 Thurso High School
p98 Abbotsinch Airport

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Professor Charles Robertson's CVInformation sent from Professor Charles Robertson to Yvonne Hillyard, October 2010  
Item 2 of 3RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership  
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A 14878, F6071 (Combined Box 117)