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

Ashworth Building (Zoology), University Of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, Charlotte Auerbach Road, EdinburghLB44230

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
NT 26789 70719
326789, 670719


Robert Lorimer and John Fraser Matthew, 1927-28; sculptural relief by Phyllis Bone. 2-storey, 19-bay, splayed-plan teaching building with classical detail, prominently located at corner site at the University of Edinburgh's 'King's Buildings' campus. Droved sandstone ashlar with harl to south and west elevations. Base course and banded cornice with blocking course. Giant Order (2-storey) pilasters separating each bay, channelled at corners.

Semi-circular steps to entrance bay with keystoned round arch recess framed by Giant Order (2-storey) pilasters. The doorway is architraved and the timber doors have bronze fittings and leaded glass panels with 'rising sun' motif. 'ZOOLOGY' is inscribed above the door and a panel dated '1928' with the University of Edinburgh shield. There is a 10-bay block to the right and a 6-bay block to the left of the entrance. There are cast concrete aprons between the ground and first floor windows, each displaying an individual animal sculpture plaque. Further sculptured animal plaques are located between the first floor windows and the cornice. The outermost 3-bays to either side are advanced slightly. There is an octagonal-plan lecture theatre outshot to the centre-rear (south) elevation. The building has predominantly 4 and 8 pane steel-framed windows.

The interior was seen in 2015. The central staircase has decorative wrought iron banisters with bronze handrails and bronze animal sculptures to the newel posts. There are timber fireplaces and brass fittings including door handles and keyhole covers. The laboratory/museum room has fitted wooden display cabinets with glass doors, timber benches and desks, and a large corniced central cupola, with 12-pane lights to each face, to the ceiling. There is an octagonal-plan lecture theatre to the centre-rear of the building.

Statement of Special Interest

The Ashworth Building is part of an associated group of buildings for science education at the University of Edinburgh's 'King's Buildings' campus, designed between 1926 and 1930 by the important 20th century Scottish architectural partnership of Sir Robert Lorimer and John Fraser Matthew. The building is prominently located on a corner site, facing the main road, with classical detailing.

In reference to the inter-war buildings at the campus, 'The Buildings of Scotland – Edinburgh' notes the 'monumental frontages advertising the dignity of science' (Gifford et al, p.486). The main entrance and the outside walls of the Ashworth Building (Zoology) are decorated with seventeen sculptured animal plaques by the Royal Scottish Academician, Phyllis Bone, who also worked with Lorimer and Matthew on the sculptures which decorate the National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. The animals were modelled in clay before being cast in artificial stone. The plaques are an expression of the building's intended function and are a distinctive feature of the building.

Stylistically, the buildings for the King's Buildings site by Lorimer and Matthew are designed in a paired-back classical style, fashionable for public buildings at the time. Lorimer and Matthew added Dutch-colonial and Arts and Craft features to the plain classical planning and plan form.

John F Matthew (1875 - 1955) was 'almost wholly responsible for the University's King's Buildings commissioned in 1927-29' (Dictionary of Scottish Architects). When Lorimer died in September 1929 he became sole partner. The design for the Ashworth Building incorporated a teaching museum space to be built beside the main teaching laboratory with large north facing windows that reached from ceiling to bench level. Special glass was developed for the ceiling in the museum to reduce the amount of ultra-violet light entering the room. The need for increased laboratory space during the 1950s saw the wall that divided the main laboratory from the museum removed and the laboratory extended into the museum floor area. The fitted wooden display cabinets in this room contain many specimens including an important coral collection amassed by Sir Maurice Yonge during a thirteen month expedition to Australia's Great Barrier Reef in 1928.

The 115 acre (45 hectare) area, formerly the site of West Mains Farm, on the southside of the city had been purchased in 1919 by the University for the relocation and expansion of its science departments. The sense of uncertainty during the years between the wars were felt at universities across the country, with economic austerity leading to a reduction in funding for scientific research. Increasing demand for laboratory facilities and lack of available funds led, in 1921, to the University launching an appeal for the erection of classrooms and laboratories at what was to become the King's Buildings site. Many of the early buildings on the site, including the Ashworth Building, were built with the assistance of generous benefactors. James Ashworth, Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh, travelled to the United States of America to deliver an appeal to the John D. Rockefeller International Education Board who replied with a gift of £74,000 towards the cost of building the Department of Zoology at the King's Buildings site. The building was opened by Prince George on 15 May 1929.

The University renamed the road network at King's Buildings campus in 2014, using the names of notable scientists.

Statutory Address and Listed Building Record revised in 2016. Previously Listed as 'Mayfield Road And West Mains Road, University Of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Zoology'.



Canmore:, CANMORE ID:146546; Lorimer and Matthew Collection, Ref: LOR E/105/1-34

The Builder (31 May 1929) CXXXVI, p.990 – notes. pp.997-999 (illustration, plan)

Edinburgh City Archives, Dean of Guild plans: interim 25 October 1929; final 6 December 1929.

J Gifford, C McWilliam and D Walker (1988) The Buildings Of Scotland – Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books Ltd, p.487

C McKean (1992) Edinburgh: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, Edinburgh: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, p.197.

Birse R.M. (1994) Science at the University of Edinburgh, 1583-1993. Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh Press, p.108

Dictionary of Scottish Architects: University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Department of Zoology [accessed 11/11/2015]

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


Standard image of Ashworth Building (Zoology), University Of Edinburgh, King’S Buildings, Charlotte Auerbach Road, Edinburgh


Map of Ashworth Building (Zoology), University Of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, Charlotte Auerbach Road, Edinburgh

Printed: 02/12/2023 18:30