Click for Bookshop

King's Buildings

A motley collection of buildings in S Edinburgh which forms the suburban science and engineering campus of the University of Edinburgh, the King's Buildings lie between Mayfield Road and West Mains Road, 2¼ miles (3.5 km) south of the city centre. Known to generations of students as 'KB', the campus is named in honour of King George V, who endorsed the need for a dedicated science campus for the University and laid the foundation stone for the first building (Chemistry) in 1920. Temporary use was made of huts that had housed American troops in St. Andrew Square during the First World War, which were subsequently purchased by the University and transported to the new campus.

A range of distinctive B-listed buildings were built alongside Chemistry (which was extended to the rear in 1950, and is now known as the Joseph Black Building) to form the frontage of the site. These are the Sanderson Building (Engineering); the Zoology Building (now Ashworth Laboratories; 1928, with extensions dating from 1967 and 2004), the Grant Institute of Geology (1931, extended to the rear 1991), endowed by biscuit-manufacturer Sir Alexander Grant (1864 - 1937). Both the Engineering and Geology buildings were opened on the same day in 1932 by Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald (1866 - 1937). Set further back on the site are the Dutch-style Crew Building (1930; built for Animal Genetics, refurbished for Civil Engineering in the 1990s and now used by the School of GeoSciences), also B-listed, and the King's Buildings Union (1939). The rather dull Chemistry Building is in brick, trimmed with red sandstone, by Rowand Anderson and Balfour Paul. The others are Lutyens-esque by John Matthew (1875 - 1955), faced in buff sandstone with pleasant detailing. The Zoology building features sculptural motifs by Alexander Carrick (1882 - 1966).

Later buildings include the Peter Wilson Building (1960; now used by Scotland's Rural College), the James Clerk Maxwell Building (1966, principally Maths and Physics), the Daniel Rutherford Building (refurbished 2005), the Darwin Tower (1968) now joined to the Michael Swann Building (1996; Biological Sciences), the Erskine Williamson Building (2004), the Alexander Graham Bell Building (2005), regarded as the university's first truly 'green' building, which is linked to the William Rankine Building (2006; Civil and Environmental Engineering) and the Waddington Building (2009). For many years the King's Buildings site has been full, and the university develops the campus by demolishing buildings which are no longer fit for purpose.

The University implemented a programme of street-naming at King's Buildings in 2014, with names of notable scientists such as Charlotte Auerbach, Thomas Bayes, David Brewster, James Dewar, James Hutton, Colin Maclaurin and Peter Guthrie Tait being applied. The King's Buildings are connected by a shuttle bus to the George Square campus in the city centre.


Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better