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, Pollock Halls of Residence Phases I and II: South Hall (Formerly Holland House, Fraser House and Refectory) and Holland House (Blocks A, B, C and D), 18 Holyrood Park Road, EdinburghLB50187

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26982 72343
326982, 672343


Rowand Anderson, Kininmonth and Paul, 1956-1964 (William Kininmonth, principal architect; Alex McIver, executive architect); Blyth and Blyth, structural engineers; Thomas Whalen, sculptor. Classical Modernist university halls of residence and refectory group, of Swedish style, set in courtyard layout comprising 2 U-plan blocks arranged symmetrically on N-S axis (Blocks B and D) with 4 square-plan towers with concrete lanterns to ends; central refectory block to S with attenuated arcade to N; attached blocks (A and C) to NE and NW of refectory, creating inner courtyard. Hybrid construction of reinforced concrete and load-bearing brick and stone. Rough hewn red sandstone on refectory walls, staircase walls of accommodation blocks and other detailing. Other walls of harled brickwork, with concrete columns lintels, cills and lantern finials. Low-pitched roofs of light-gauge copper.

SOUTH HALL: double-height, rectangular-plan refectory block (on E-W axis) with 2-storey, E and W wings. N (courtyard) elevation: fully glazed in metal frame set behind full-height shell-arched, 9-bay, arcade supported on slender columns. S elevation: oculus windows to upper level. E and W wings: glazed doors and full-height windows in wooden sub-frames divided by fascias to N; projecting ground floor with terrace above to S. Covered walkway link to eastern accommodation block. Main entrance foyer in attached block (Block A) to W. Single-storey kitchen block and boiler house attached to S. Detached 2-storey staff block to the S-W. Interior: wide glazed entrances to E and W of refectory (that to E stepped) cantilevered gallery and dog-leg stairs with decorative metal railings to W. Walls of rough-hewn red sandstone and transverse plaster vaults. Hardwood doors to kitchen to S. Spiral stair to mezzanine to W containing small common room; E mezzanine containing small library and flying stairs. Wings contain corridors linking refectory to outer blocks (B and D).

HOLLAND HOUSE (BLOCKS A AND C): 2, 3-storey, rectangular-plan accommodation blocks attached to E and W of refectory (South Hall). Ground floor rooms project onto courtyard elevations. Courtyard elevations: full-height windows to ground floors; regularly placed 2-pane windows to 1st and 2nd floors. Outer elevations: projecting ground floor windows; terrace to 1st floor; pair of double-height façade recessions containing balconies. End Elevations: double-height stair windows. W block (Block A): containing main entrance foyer, large common room and smaller meeting rooms. Main common room with feature fireplace and sculptural panel over large open fireplace set in red sandstone rubble wall. E block (Block C): former common room to ground floor, now a computer lab (2004). Bed-study rooms arranged about central corridor on 1st and 2nd floors.

HOLLAND HOUSE (BLOCKS B AND D): 2, 3-storey C-plan blocks terminated by taller lantern towers with balconies. Loggias to courtyard elevations and projecting staircase walls to outer elevations. W loggia (Block B) with open walkway and elliptical arches on round columns. East loggia (Block D), with columns and lintels glazed-in. Bed-study rooms, wardens' accommodation and service rooms arranged around central corridor on upper floors and corridor behind loggia on ground floor.

Statement of Special Interest

This important grouping of university residence buildings is a key work of Scottish Modernism, integral to the University's post-war expansion.

The first two phases, Holland House Fraser House and the Refectory (now known as Holland House blocks A, B, C and D and the South Hall) were executed in an idiom often described as Festival Style, owing much to pre-war Swedish design, while attempting to acknowledge Scottish architectural tradition. These buildings are the best extant example of this style in Edinburgh and possibly Scotland. While its forerunner might have been the University hostels at Aarhus, its contemporary was Robert Matthew's Crombie Halls of Residence at Aberdeen.

Scottish arts and crafts are represented in the rubble stonework, ironmongery and the work by local sculptor Tom Whalen. The handling and arrangement of elements show a remarkable sensitivity to the natural surroundings. The original scheme was drafted by Sir William Kininmonth for the University Principal, Sir Edward Appleton, in 1949. The formal bi-axial layout perhaps influenced by Kininmonth's time in the office of Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Sir Donald Pollock donated the site to the University, during WWII, with the intention that the old mansions of St.Leonard's House and Salisbury Green should become small student houses and Abden House the Principal's residence. Appleton's ambition was revealed in his request for schemes for first 600 student places and later 1,800. Despite opposition from Pollock, the first phase commenced in 1955, the second in 1962. Further phases of the classical halls of residence arrangement were abandoned in response to a change in the government's perception of student lifestyles and the need for more flexible living arrangements and self-catering facilities. (See separate listings).

Economy also dictated the use of system-build. Kininmonth, however, retained his twin axis from which the original plan had been generated placing the SKARNE towers on each side of the north-south axis and the second refectory site on the northern end of a vista from the first. The second refectory received advance funding in order to be ready for the Royal Commonwealth Games for which the Pollock Halls was used as the Games Village.

A subsequent development by Rowand Anderson, Kininmonth & Paul, Cowan House (1971-74), on the northwest of the site took economy too far with the result that it was unpopular with students and uneconomical to maintain. As a result it was demolished in 2001.

Further development of the site, by other architects have not followed any particular master plan but, rather, responded to the availability of land previously used as gardens and recreation space.

The interior of the South Hall retains many original features, including hardwood joinery, though a recent refurbishment involved the removal of light fittings and other original features and the painting out of the original colours on the ironwork of the balustrades. The (former) common room in Block A retains its original fireplace and grate, although the sculpture has been obscured by new lowered ceilings. The common room in Block C has been converted into a computer lab. The interiors of the Holland House accommodation blocks have been substantially refurbished. The interiors of the SKARNE blocks have also been substantially altered and refurbished. The John McIntyre Centre retains some original features in the ground floor dining room but the 1st floor has been substantially altered and refurbished and a conservatory has been installed on the roof terrace.

Statutory address updated (2015). Previously listed as '18 Holyrood Park Road, University of Edinburgh, Pollock Halls of Residence phases I and II: South Hall (formerly Holland House, Fraser House and Refectory), Holland House (blocks A, B, C and D)'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 69994

The Scotsman (21 September 1960) p14.

The Scotsman, (23 January 1923).

Edinburgh Evening News, (12 August 1959).

J Gifford, C McWilliam and D Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1991) pp637-638.

M. Glendinning (Ed.) Rebuilding Scotland (1997) p163.

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South hall north elevation , University of Edinburgh, Pollock Halls of Residence Phases I and II: South Hall (Formerly Holland House, Fraser House and Refectory) and Holland House (Blocks A, B, C and D), 18 Holyrood Park Road, Edinburgh
View from North, University of Edinburgh, Pollock Halls of Residence Phases I and II: South Hall (Formerly Holland House, Fraser House and Refectory) and Holland House (Blocks A, B, C and D), 18 Holyrood Park Road, Edinburgh

Printed: 17/11/2018 12:55