Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

Kaim House, Robert Gordon University, Garthdee Road, AberdeenLB15782

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 91635 3060
391635, 803060


Kaim House was designed by A. Marshall Mackenzie and Son in 1910 and is a 2-storey and basement, U-plan, harled villa in a simple neo-Regency style. It has a symmetrical south elevation comprising full height bowed and conical roofed bays flanking a curved railed terrace and steps. The other elevations have irregular fenestration. The south elevation entrance door is glazed with narrow rectangular sidelights and fanlight. The entrance door to the west elevation has a roll mounded architrave with the inscription from Psalm 121, verse 8. 'THE LORD SHALL PRESERVE THY GOING OUT AND THY COMING IN'. Adjoining the right of the west elevation is a garage with a segmental arched opening and stepped pyramid details to the corners. At the centre of the north (rear) elevation is a round stairtower with a candlesnuffer roof.

There a variety of glazing patterns in timber frames. The roof is pitched with grey slates and there are harled and coped wallhead and ridge stacks.

The interior, seen in 2014, has large public south-facing rooms at the ground floor with acanthus leaf and egg and dart cornicing. The ground floor room to the southwest of the plan has painted timer paneling. There is a curved stone staircase to the north of the plan, which has a decorative newel post, otherwise the balusters are plain. There are 6-panel timber doors throughout the building, and those to the ground floor public rooms are 2-leaf. Two first floor rooms have mantlepieces with a decorative mantle.

Statement of Special Interest

Kaim House is a largely unaltered and distinctive example of the domestic work of the prestigious local architect, Alexander Marshall Mackenzie. Designed in 1910 the style of this former villa is an unusual mixture of neo-Regency and modern, with the distinctive symmetrical south elevation and its full height bowed bays and terracing contrasting with the irregularity of the other elevations.

Kaim House is at the centre of Garthdee estate which is now part of a university campus setting. The house has retained its uninterrupted view to the River Dee, but its setting has been altered with late 20th and early 21st century university buildings to the east and large car parks to the north, as well as storage building immediately to the west of the house.

Kaim House was designed in 1910 by the Aberdeen architectural practice, A. Marshall Mackenzie and Son. The house was designed for Marshall Mackenzie's daughter, Phoebe, and her husband, Thomas Livingston Adam, who were married on the 28 September 1910. Adam was the only son of the shipowner, Thomas Adam of Denmore, and when Thomas Adam Snr died in 1919, Thomas Adam Jnr inherited the estate of Denmore and sold Kaim House. Newspaper advertisements for the sale of the house in November 1919 describe the accommodation as '3 public rooms, 5 bedrooms, 2 dressing rooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 servants bedrooms. Kitchen, scullery, pantries, laundry, wash-house, motor-house etc, together with three-stall byre, man's room, dairy and outhouse adjoining' (Aberdeen Journal, p.1).

In the late 20th century Kaim House was bought by Robert Gordon University, as part of the expansion of their Garthdee campus, shortly after the college achieved university status in 1992. In 1953 Thomas Scott Sutherland (1899–1963), an architect and entrepreneur, gifted the 20 acre Garthdee estate to Robert Gordon's College for use as the college's School of Architecture. This gift was decisive in the history of Robert Gordon University. The relocation of Gray's School of Art to Garthdee in 1967 marked the beginning of the development of the campus. In the 1990s the university operated over 8 different sites and an estates strategy proposed expanding the Garthdee site by the purchase of neighbouring estates, a significant building programme and a phased relocation of departments.

The origins of Robert Gordon University can be traced back to 1729 when Robert Gordon, an Aberdeen merchant trader, founded Robert Gordon s Hospital, to educate the young sons and grandsons of the Burgesses of the Guild who were too poor to send them to school. In 1881 the hospital became Robert Gordon s College with a secondary day school and separate adult education college. Since 1881 the training work of various other institutes and societies were transferred to the college, leading to various name changes until it was awarded university status in 1992.

Kaim House is situated in the Pitfodels area of Aberdeen. The rural Pitfodels estate, which stretched from Cults to the Bridge of Dee, was owned by the Menzies family since the 15th century. From 1805 the last laird, John Menzies began to feu some of the estate and when he died in 1843, without any descendants the remaining estate was purchased by the Pitfodels Land Company. Brogden, in his book Aberdeen, An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1998), notes that the plots varied in size, but were as large as 8-10 acres along the side of the River Dee, where Garthdee is situated. An 1895 account describes it as follows "...The greater part of the lands of Pitfodels is now studded with beautiful mansions and villas, each of which stands amid well laid out and carefully kept grounds. They mostly belong to manufacturers and gentlemen engaged in business in Aberdeen, and retired gentlemen." (Mackintosh, p.29). Large villas surrounded by trees were erected in a number of the larger plots and these continue to be a feature of this area.

Alexander Marshall Mackenzie (1848-1933) was one of Aberdeen's most prestigious and prolific architects, whose output extended over private commissions and large public works. His work was mainly concentrated in the northeast of Scotland, and includes the frontage of Marischal College in Aberdeen (1893-1905) and Aberdeen Art Gallery (1885) (see separate listings). He was also responsible for Australia House in London (1913-1918).

Category changed from B to C, statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as 'Kaim House'.



Canmore: CANMORE ID 149551


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1923, published 1925) Aberdeenshire 086.02 (includes: Aberdeen; Banchory-Devenick; Nigg; Peterculter) 3rd Edition. 25 inches to 1 mile. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Aberdeen Journal (29 September 1910) Adam – Mackenzie. p.6.

Aberdeen Journal (18 November 1919) Kaim House, Cults, Aberdeen. p.1.

Brogden, W.A. (1998) Aberdeen: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. 2nd Edition. RIAS: Edinburgh. p.169.

Ellington, H. (2002). The Robert Gordon University: A History. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University Press. p.239.

Sharples, J. Walker, D.W. and Woodworth, M (2015) Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire South and Aberdeen. London: Yale University Press. p.296.

Online Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Kaim House at (accessed 31/12/2015).

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

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Kaim House, south elevation, looking north, during daytime, on clear day.
Kaim House, west elevation, looking southwest, during daytime, on clear day.

Printed: 23/04/2019 03:37