Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

University of Edinburgh, Adam House, 5 and 6 Chambers Street, Edinburgh LB27990

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25942 73423
325942, 673423


William H Kininmonth, dated 1954. 3-storey and attic, 3-bay (with further bay recessed to left) Modern-Neo-Classical University Examination Hall descending 8-storeys to lower ground to rear. Concrete with polished ashlar frontage to S. Entablature between ground and 1st floors and at eaves level. Wide central bay with main entrance to centre with moulded architrave and studded and panelled iron doors flanked by Tuscan-order pilasters and ornamental urns within round-arch niches. Stylised 'Burlington window above with massive round-arched head and moulded crest to centre. Raised attic-storey with central oculus and shallow pediment above. Flanked by slightly advanced single-bays with windows at each floor with keystone mouldings to ground. Deep cornices at 2nd floor with wide blocking courses above. Further narrow bay, slightly recessed to far left with round-arched doorway.

INTERIOR: Hall with circular lightwell to centre at 1st and 3rd floors allowing light to penetrate from upper levels. Symmetrical staircases to left and right rising to all levels. Some internal glass partitions to examination hall entrances remain with original etched glass pattern. Patterned linoleum flooring. 164-seat theatre space at level below examination halls.

12-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows at 1st floor; 9-pane fixed glazing elsewhere.

Statement of Special Interest

Adam House is a bold addition to the architecture of Chambers Street, making experimental use of Neo-Classical design principles while utilising contemparary materials and methods of construction.

William Kininmonth was one of the leading Scottish exponents of International Modernism during the 1930s. Adam House s neo-classical façade was dismissed at the time of its construction as an ill-conceived throwback by a number of those in the architectural profession, while others championed it as a survival of an alternative Classical tradition.

Kinninmonth stated in his 'Notes on Adam House - 1955 that architecturally, the building is intended as a visual reminder that the University is a store house of learning, much of which is valuable in any age and that the underlying intention of the architecture was to attempt the integration of contemporary materials and methods of construction into traditional principles of proportion . He stipulated that the examination rooms should be situated towards the rear of the building to minimise distraction from street-traffic and other noise pollution, with frosted glass employed to minimise visual distraction from the outside world.

The name of the building commemorates the 18th century 'Adam Square , which was demolished to make way for Chambers Street under the 1867 City Improvement Act.

List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey, 2007/08.

Statutory address updated (2015). Previously listed as '5 and 6 Chambers Street, Adam House'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 74099

John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p222.

B T Pentreath, 'Adam House and its Architectural Influences (1986).

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, (accessed 10.05.2007)

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.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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South elevation, University of Edinburgh, Adam House, 5 and 6 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, with cars in the foreground

Printed: 21/11/2018 04:44