Malcolm is an Edinburgh boy, who studied architecture at the University of Edinburgh then worked as a community architect in its big Wester Hailes social housing scheme; with architect and theorist Christopher Alexander in Berkeley, California; on conservation work in Edinburgh; and with poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay at his garden, Little Sparta, in the Scottish Borders.

He founded his first practice, Malcolm Fraser Architects, in 1993. The practice first made its name developing bars, restaurants and nightclubs, graduating to lottery-funded arts projects (driven from the idea stage by Malcolm himself), many of which redefined the townscape and urban realm of Edinburgh’s Old Town, such as the Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Storytelling Centre, DanceBase and Dovecot Studios.

5 2006

The work encompassed conservation and new build, based on respect for the historic built context and the need to build within it in a rooted, confident, contemporary way. Its Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, for the University of Edinburgh, became the first listed building to achieve BREEAM "Outstanding" award, setting-out a new approach to sustainability that valued embedded energy and make-do-and-mend over the wasteful cycle of demolition and rebuild.

The Scottish Ballet Headquarters in Glasgow and Dance City in Newcastle upon Tyne are among many exemplary projects in other UK cities, alongside significant Council and cultural infrastructure on the Islands of Lewis and Orkney.

The practice also worked with volume housebuilders, successfully re-defining standard models to produce housing with improved placemaking and environmental standards, their communities focused on sunshine, connectivity and gathering space.

Pizza Express Deanhaugh
Pizza Express Deanhaugh, by Water of Leith. Malcolm Fraser Architects, 1996.

The practice won innumerable awards at local and national level during its 22 years of existence, including 9 RIBA awards and a Stirling Prize nomination, and was dissolved in 2015.

Malcolm then formed Fraser/Livingstone Architects with Robin, who he had worked happily with at MFA for 10 years, in January 2019.

Cam01 athron hill
Athron Hill, Perth & Kinross. A new rural community within a mature woodland setting. Malcolm Fraser Architects & Fraser/Livingstone Architects.

Public, Policy & Urban Experience


Current involvement in Scottish Government Policy

Working with multiple partners but, in particular, the Common Weal (inaugural Board member from 2013 onwards of the Scottish think-tank, campaigning and advocacy organisation).

  • Campaigning on Housing, Land Reform and Infrastructure. 
  • Advocacy towards the establishment of the National Investment Bank and National Infrastructure Company
  • Membership of Working Groups on the Land Reform Commission examining new levers for Local Authorities such as Compulsory Sales Orders and Land Value Capture. 
  • Membership of key Government Housing initiatives.


Town Centres

Led and authored the Scottish Government's 2014 National Review of Town Centres, Community and Enterprise in Scotland's Town Centres, which looked to structural change to bring investment and footfall to towns.

  • The Government's response included adopting the Review's recommendation for a "Town Centre First" principle across all its activities. 
  • Ongoing involvement in policy and Local Authorities’ initiatives including through Scotland’s Towns Partnership.

Urban Initiatives

In Edinburgh, between 1999 and 2009, six Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA) Building of the Year/Silver Medals, two Conservation awards, plus other EAA Awards and Commendations. 

  • Using this as a platform Malcolm campaigns about built environment issues in Edinburgh, including initiatives for Princes Street, the Grassmarket and Schools, and ongoing input into Edinburgh’s 2050 Vision.  
  • Malcolm has also led Scottish Government Town Charrettes, including delivery in Stromness that won both Scottish and UK’s primary RTPI Awards, 2018.

Community Enabling

Involvement with the Community Empowerment Bill

  • Ongoing delivery of early projects arising from the legislation including the pioneering urban Community Asset Transfer at Bridgend Community Farmhouse.

Public Bodies

Edinburgh Vision MF sketch
Fraser's work in Edinburgh.

Academic

  • 2003 Visiting Professor at the University of the West of England.
  • 2009 Geddes Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, part of the University of Edinburgh.
  • Lectures in Europe, China and North America.

Other

  • 2008 spokesman for the Merger Action Group of Scottish businessmen who took Her Majesty's Government to the Competition Appeal Tribunal over the Government's alleged "ripping-up" of legislation and failure to heed anti-competition warnings when it enabled the acquisition of HBOS by Lloyds TSB. Read Malcolm's article on the subject: Adventures in Banking and Architecture.
  • Spokesman for “Architects for Yes” in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. Malcolm's writings on independence are filed in our library's section on politics.

Main completed work & awards

Malcolm Fraser Architects

Scottish Poetry Library, 1999
  • Royal Scottish Academy, Gold Medal for Architecture, 1997
  • RIBA Award, 2000 
  • Prospect 100 best modern Scottish buildings, no.9
Dance Base, 2001
  • RIAS Andrew Doolan Award for Architecture, Winner, 2002
  • RIBA Award, Winner, 2002
  • Stirling Prize, Finalist, 2002
The Drum, Bo’ness, 2003
  • Saltire Society, Housing Award, 2005
Dance City, 2005
  • RIBA Award, Winner, 2007
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 2006
  • RIBA Award, Winner, 2007
HBOS Headquarters, 2006

Princess Gate housing, 2007

Berwick Workspace, 2007
  • RIBA Award, Winner,  2009
Dovecot Studios, 2009
  • RIBA Award, Winner, 2010
Scottish Ballet, 2009
  • Scottish Design Awards, Architecture Grand Prix, and Best Public Building, 2010
Dance Base , Edinburgh with Edinburgh Castle
Dance Base, Edinburgh. Doolan Award winner, Stirling Prize finalist. Malcolm Fraser Architects, 2001.
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Speir's Lock Studio, 2011 & 2015
  • RIBA Award, Winner
Linlithgow Burgh Halls, 2012

Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, 2014
  • Edinburgh Architectural Association Best Building of the Year, Winner, 2014
  • RICS Building Conservation Award; Scottish Design Award for Education Building, 2014
  • BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), "Outstanding"
University of Edinburgh Arcadia Nursery, 2014
  • Scottish Design Awards: Best education building, Winner, 2015 
  • Edinburgh Architectural Association, Awards Wood Award, 2015
  • Edinburgh Architectural Association, Building of the Year Award, Commendation, 2015
  • RIAS Award, 2015
  • RIBA Award, 2015
  • Wood for Good/ Forestry Commission Scotland Award, 2015
  • Zero Waste Scotland's Efficiency Award, 2015
West Pilton Crescent Council Housing, 2015
  • Saltire Award, Winner, 2015
Stromness Warehouse, Library and Council Hub, 2015
  • Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning, Overall Winner, 2017
  • RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup, Overall UK Winner, 2018  

Lews Castle and Museum nan Eilan, Stornoway, 2015

Leith Fort Colonies, 2018

Delivered by Collective Architecture

  • Saltire Award and Medal, 2018
  • RIAS Award, 2018
  • EAA  Building of the Year, Highly Commended, 2018
  • Homes for Scotland, Affordable Housing of the Year, 2018
  • Scottish Design Awards, Affordable housing of the Year, 2018
ECCI 8748
The first listed building to achieve BREEAM Outstanding status: Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, Malcolm Fraser Architects, 2014.