Malcolm Fraser (architect)

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Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser (born 21 July 1959) is an architect from Edinburgh, Scotland.[1] He was the founder of Malcolm Fraser Architects, a firm of architects based in the Old Town of Edinburgh from 1993. The company entered liquidation on 21 August 2015[2] and Fraser worked with Halliday Fraser Munro Architects before setting up anew with Robin Livingstone as Fraser/Livingstone Architects in January 2019.


Alexander Malcolm Fraser was born on 21 July 1959 to Margaret (née Watters) and William Fraser (Structural engineer, with Blyth and Blyth, for many of Edinburgh's best post-war buildings[3]). He attended George Watson's College, going on to study architecture at the University of Edinburgh, graduating with an MA Hons, DipArch in 1985.[4] Following University he worked as a community architect in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh; with architect and theorist Christopher Alexander in Berkeley, California; conservation practices in Edinburgh; and with poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay at his garden, Little Sparta, near Edinburgh.

He founded his architectural practice, Malcolm Fraser Architects, in 1993. It first made its name[5] developing bars and restaurants for clients such as Pizza Express, and with lottery-funded arts projects.[6] The practice's work encompassed conservation and new build, often in historic contexts such as Edinburgh's World Heritage Site, based on respect for the historic built context and the need to build within it in a rooted, confident, contemporary way.[7] Its Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, for the University of Edinburgh, became the first listed building to achieve BREEAM "Outstanding" award. The practice won eight RIBA awards and also completed masterplanning and construction work for volume housebuilders that won for them, for the first time in Scotland, major awards - for The Drum, Bo'ness, West Lothian[8][9] and Princess Gate, Fairmilehead, Edinburgh.[10][11] The practice ceased trading in 2015, after 22 years of work.

Fraser married Helen Lucas in 1988 and has one son and two daughters.[4]



The practice, between 1999 and 2009, won the Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA) Building of the Year/Silver Medal six times,[12] the Conservation award twice[13] plus other EAA Awards and Commendations.[14] Using this as a platform Fraser has campaigned about built environment issues in Edinburgh, including initiatives for Princes Street,[15][16] the Grassmarket[17] and the redevelopment of Boroughmuir High School.[18]

Public life[edit]

In 2002, Fraser was appointed as the inaugural Deputy-Chair of Architecture and Design Scotland – a non-departmental public body (or quango) which acts as the Scottish Government's advisor on the built environment. He resigned in 2004 over the organisation's unwillingness to examine whether the UK Government's use of Public-Private Partnerships for public buildings such as schools represented value-for-money.[19][20]

Fraser was appointed Visiting Professor at the University of the West of England in 2003 and Geddes Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, part of the University of Edinburgh, in 2009. He has also lectured in Europe, China and North America. Fraser sits on the board of the Common Weal, a Scottish think tank, campaigning and advocacy organisation. During the run-up to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum Fraser acted as spokesman for the group 'Architects for Yes'.


During his time as a columnist for the weekly architectural journal Building Design, in 2003, Fraser initiated[21] a Flat VAT campaign to standardise Value Added Tax across new build (currently 0%) and repair (then 17.5%) that was taken up by Richard Rodgers and Debra Shipley MP but rejected by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown MP.[22]


Fraser acted as spokesman[23] for the Merger Action Group of Scottish businessmen who took Her Majesty's Government to the Competition Appeal Tribunal over the Government's alleged "ripping-up" of legislation and failure to heed anti-competition warnings when it enabled the acquisition of HBOS by Lloyds TSB in 2008.

Town Centre Review[edit]

Fraser led and authored the Scottish Government's Town Centre Review "Community and Enterprise in Scotland's Town Centres", which looked to structural change to bring investment and footfall in towns. The Government's response included adopting the review's recommendation for a "Town Centre First" principle across all its activities.

Main completed work and awards[edit]

Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, 1999
Scottish Ballet headquarters at The Tramway, Glasgow, 2009
Arcadia Nursery, King's Buildings, University of Edinburgh 2014.

Projects in chronological order with year of completion, major awards and citations:[24]


  1. ^ "Malcolm Fraser"[permanent dead link] Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services – Image Library - Capital Collections. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
  2. ^ "Edinburgh-based Malcolm Fraser Architects shuts down". BBC News. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Post 1945 Buildings in Edinburgh".
  4. ^ a b "Who's Who". Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  5. ^ "The Wee Blue", RIBA Journal, page 60, October 1997
  6. ^ Architects' Journal, page 40, 7 May 1998
  7. ^ Burman, Peter. "Conservation Philosophy in Practice — a Scottish Perspective", Architectural Heritage XVII, November 2006. Retrieved on 2009-11-22. "Malcolm Fraser is an architect who has thoroughly soaked himself in the language and traditions and morphology of the Old Town of Edinburgh in such a way that he seems to be able to design quite boldly for it, without compromising the overall harmony."
  8. ^ Saltire Society, Saltire Housing Design Award 2005: The Drum (phase 3), Bo'ness Archived 8 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Deffenbaugh, John. "Review - Exhibition - Test of Time: 70 years of the Saltire Housing Awards", Architects Journal, 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
  10. ^ Tim Cornwell, "Our best building? You may just be living in it", The Scotsman, 2007-10-3. Retrieved on 2009-11-22.
  11. ^ Saltire Society, Saltire Housing Design Award 2007: Princess Gate, Fairmilehead, Edinburgh Archived 8 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Edinburgh Architectural Association Building of the Year/Silver Medal 1999, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008
  13. ^ Edinburgh Architectural Association award in 2006 and 2009
  14. ^ 2002 and 2003
  15. ^ 'Princes Street will be the crowning glory once more', Edinburgh Architecture, March 2003. Retrieved 209-12-10.
  16. ^ "Princes Street", Urban Realm, 2004-12-17. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
  17. ^ "Grass is greener in Spanish plaza plan", Edinburgh Evening News , 2002-02-14. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  18. ^ "A New Boroughmuir", Boroughmuir High School website, 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  19. ^ Money, Rachel. "School PPP scheme a 'catastrophe' for pupils", Sunday Herald, 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
  20. ^ "Interview following Fraser's resignation from A+DS", Urban Realm, 2007-04-17. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
  21. ^ Building Design, 4 July 2003-07-04
  22. ^ Booth, Robert and Gates, Charlie, "Flat VAT now: high-profile support for flat VAT rate on all construction as BD launches campaign", Building Design, 2003-07-04. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  23. ^ Sweeney, Charlene, "Action group chief braced for HBOS defeat", The Times, 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  24. ^ "Malcolm Fraser :: Awards". Archived from the original on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  25. ^ Retrieved 2009-12-12.

External links[edit]

Official site Fraser/Livingstone Architects