Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

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

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


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

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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

Printed: 30/11/2022 20:46