The Great Debate - Traditionalism: The Edinburgh Dilemma


Old Royal High School, Edinburgh
Sunday 29 May 2016
19.00 - 20.30
Tickets £5 - £10.20


As part of the Festival of Architecture 2016 the EAA presents a discussion on the vision of Edinburgh, the dilemma of tradition and modernity, conservation and commercial pressures. Chaired by Lesley Riddoch with James Simpson, Robert Adam, Malcolm Fraser and Jude Barber.


James Simpson is an Architect in Edinburgh. He trained with Colin McWilliam at the Edinburgh College of Art and in the offices of Ian G. Lindsay and Sir Bernard Feilden. He co-founded the firm of Simpson & Brown in 1977 and is now a 'Working Consultant' to the practice. He has worked on conservation and other projects in the UK, India and Burma. He sat on numerous committees, including RCAHMS and Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, and is currently Vice-President of ICOMOSUK. He has written and lectured extensively on the theory and practice of conservation. He edited and annotated a reprint edition of William Adam's 'Vitruvius Scoticus' in 1980.
"Architecture is not about 'style': fashion is frivolous. Vitruvius said it all 2000 years ago: good architecture has 'firmitas, utilitas & venustas'. Context is fundamental: in a city like Edinburgh, there is a place for the modern and a place for the traditional. Both can be good and both can be bad."

Jude Barber is an architect and director at Collective Architecture, Glasgow. The 32-strong architecture studio specialises in arts and culture, housing, shared community facilities and conservation. At times Collective Architecture works on periphery of typical architectural practice undertaking close collaborations with local organisations, activists, artists and writers. Jude was a founding member of GLAS Co-operative (Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space). She has also taught part time at various Schools of Architecture, is Convenor of the Saltire Society Housing Design Awards and is a Board member of arts organisation NVA.

"Architecture is an expression of society's values at any given time. Power, is what remains."

Malcolm Fraser is an Edinburgh architect whose practice added greatly to the culture and vigour of Edinburgh with buildings that respect its spirit, while focussing on the aspects of place, climate, sustainability and usability that concern us today. He now works as Director with Halliday Fraser Munro. His work with his former practice, Malcolm Fraser Architects, includes DanceBase and Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, and Scottish Ballet and the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow. The practice, between 1999 and 2015, won numerous Building of the Year Awards, Conservation Awards and a Stirling Prize finalist. Fraser was recently Chair of the Scottish Government's Town Centre Review.

" Tradition is an evolving thing, one that Edinburgh demonstrates with clarity and beauty. The challenge for an architect today is to neither obsess with replicating a tradition that we have moved on from, nor follow the practice of bland corporatism or iconic solipsism, but instead to consider what a Contemporary Tradition, that both learns from the past, and considers the present and future, might look like."

Robert Adam is well-known in the UK and internationally as a prominent figure in the development of contextual urban design, in the practice of traditional architecture, and as an author and scholar. He works on a diverse range of masterplanning, urban design and speculative housing projects and has pioneered objective coding. He also works on commercial buildings, historic buildings and major private houses.

"Traditions are the collective memory of a community and give people their identity; this applies to social life as much as the built environment. Traditions evolve but always have a clear and visible connection with their past; if places change beyond recognition they are no longer part of the identity of the community."

Lesley Riddoch is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and journalist. She writes weekly columns for The Scotsman and the National newspapers, and is a regular contributor to The Guardian, BBC Question Time, Any Questions and STV's Scotland Tonight. She is founder and Director of Nordic Horizons, a policy group that brings Nordic experts into the Scottish Parliament. Lesley presented You and Yours on BBC Radio 4, The Mid night Hour on BBC2 and The People' s Parliament and Powerhouse on Channel 4. She founded the Scottish Harpies and Quines, and edited The Scotswoman -1995 edition of The Scotsman written and edited by its female staff.

For more information about this event and other EAA events please visit the Festival of Architecture website www.foa2016.com




Last modified at 3:39pm on Wed 22nd June 2016