Basic Biographical Details

Name: Gerard Johannes Bakker
Designation: Architect
Born: 1939
Bio Notes: Gerard Johannes Bakker was born in 1939 to parents who lived near Watford in North London, and had his sights set on a career in architecture from an early age. A cousin who was staying with his family in 1957 was married to an Architectural Association student, and from that year Bakker attended the same institution, where he was fortunate to be taught by some of the most celebrated architects of the day. On completion of his studies he was, as he recalls, ‘headhunted’ by the AA’s principal, William Allan, to join the London practice he ran in partnership with John Bickerdike. Bakker worked on a series of small projects under Bickerdike at the start, but remembers that the work became more interesting when the firm was commissioned to design the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. It was at this point that his interest in the technical side of building – acoustics, the integration of structures and building services – began to come to fruition, and throughout his career he particularly enjoyed working alongside engineers in a culture of mutual respect.

In 1965 he was elected ARIBA. By 1966 Bakker had married, and he and his wife were tiring of London life, unable to afford to live in town and unwilling to commute from the suburbs. They considered moving to Manchester, Norwich and Edinburgh, and were won over by friends in the Scottish capital. Bakker secured a post in the practice of Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM), and the couple settled in a New Town flat. At RMJM, Bakker worked under John Richards, his first project being the Pathfoot Building at the University of Stirling, which had been planned in outline but required detail work and which he remembers as ‘one of the best buildings we produced’. He became involved in other parts of the Stirling project including the overall development plan, the library and the MacRobert centre, and he recalls that ‘there was a tremendous feeling that we were at the beginning of something big’. The work was carried out in a ‘very cosy’ attic office at 30 Hill Street, with Richards – ‘extremely clear thinking’ and with ‘great vision’ – constantly present.

He was involved with Edinburgh Airport, and was project architect for Aberdeen Airport, which was closely based on its Edinburgh counterpart. In the early 1980s he worked on two unexecuted projects in Libya, making four or five fortnight-long visits to the RMJM team that was based in that country. He worked on the Motorola electronics factory in Bathgate, and from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s he was involved in producing strategic development plans for several Scottish universities. He went on to become project director for Keadby Power Station in Yorkshire, and just before his retirement in April 2000 he set up a project team for Hull General Hospital. Throughout his professional life, he had deliberately avoided working on housing, and had also avoided hospital work as much as possible, not wishing to become trapped in either field.

Soon after retiring, he became involved in the Peebles Civic Society, latterly becoming its secretary. He has also embraced the opportunity offered by retirement to travel, visiting Australia (including the Sydney Opera House), New Zealand and the USA (with a focus on Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright buildings).

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3London, EnglandPrivate19391966 
Item 2 of 322, India Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1970 *  
Item 3 of 330, Hill Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessEarly 1970s with John Richards, at RMJM

* 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 4Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM)1966  working under John Richards
Item 2 of 4John Bickerdike PartnershipsBefore 19661966  
Item 3 of 4Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM)1980s *1985 or 1986Associate 
Item 4 of 4Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM)1985 or 1986April 2000Partner 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 141965Aberdeen University Joint Agricultural Building  AberdeenScotland 
Item 2 of 141966Royal Northern College of Music  ManchesterEnglandworked briefly on early stages, under Bickerdike firm
Item 3 of 141966University of Stirling, Pathfoot Building  StirlingshireScotlandproject architect
Item 4 of 14After 1966New University of UlsterColreaine  Eireworked for a couple of months on this project at RMJM
Item 5 of 141968University of Stirling, including library and landscapingStirling StirlingshireScotlandworked on the library
Item 6 of 141971University of Stirling, MacRobert Arts CentreStirling StirlingshireScotlandworking under John Richards
Item 7 of 141975Edinburgh Airport  EdinburghScotlandassistant architect under John Richards
Item 8 of 141977Aberdeen Airport  AberdeenScotlandProject Architect
Item 9 of 141979Electronics Factory for Burroughs CorporationLivingston West LothianScotlandWorked under George Ward - who was in fact a mechanical engineer who had joined RMJMP from Steensen Varming Mulcahy and Partners
Item 10 of 141979International Business Machines (IBM) FactoryGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 11 of 14c. 1980Vehicle workshops   Libyaunexecuted RMJM designs
Item 12 of 141982Abattoir  MisurataLibyaUnexecuted RMJM designs
Item 13 of 141982National Museum  TripoliLibyainvolved, under RMJM
Item 14 of 141987Glasgow Royal Concert Hall  GlasgowScotlandWorking under John Richards and taking the project to completion after Richards left


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2McKean, John1973RMJM at Stirling Architectual Review, June 1973, pp348-366 
Item 2 of 2Willis, Peter1977New architecture in Scotland  p52-55 University of Stirling

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Courtesy of Euan ColamInterview of Euan Colam by Kirsten McKee 3 December 2008
Item 2 of 2Courtesy of Gerard BakkerInterview of Gerard Bakker by Kirsten McKee, December 2008