‘We have been unable to make it profitable’

Malcolm Fraser Architects has gone into liquidation with the loss of 15 staff.

The award-winning Edinburgh practice is one of the country’s most respected architects. Over 22 years it built up a reputation for thoughtful and intelligent work but Fraser said he had been unable to make the business work financially.

He now plans to work as a consultant and to collaborate with other architects.

In a statement he said: “The work we did is beautiful and important. However we have been unable to make it profitable. I am immensely proud of what we have done over 22 years and the influence it has had.

“I hope my colleagues here, and the clients and ongoing work we had, will continue with other architectural practices. I, myself, will continue as an independent consultant, but will also work with other architects, including on existing, long-gestating projects.”

According to its latest report and accounts, the firm owed creditors close to £380,000 but was owed just over £350,000. In the accounts for the year ending February 2015, the amount it had in hand and at the bank was just £269.

Ellis Woodman, director of the Architecture Foundation, tweeted this morning: “Really shocked to hear about Malcolm Fraser Architects going into liqidation. Still so tough for UK architects outside London.”

An architect based in Scotland calling himself Mr Bricolage added: “Their buildings were consistently humane, well-considered and sensitive to place without deference.”

Scottish Green Party politician Gavin Corbett said: “Something deeply wrong with the way Scotland does development if Malcolm Fraser cannot flourish.”

And architecture critic and former AR editor Cathy Slessor said: “That’s dismaying. He really galvanised Edinburgh’s moribund and inherently conservative milieu.”

Fraser was one of a number of Scottish architects who supported an independent Scotland during last year’s referendum campaign. The group, who also included Alan Dunlop, launched a pro-independence manifesto and explaining his decision to back the Yes campaign, Fraser said: “It feels that, in today’s Britain, my primary responsibility as an architect is to serve Big Business, and that the best I can aspire to is to build big, aggressive towers in London. But I believe, instead, that an architect’s primary responsibility is to society, building places where all of us can share in the wealth of Scotland’s built and natural environment, and that I share that care and concern with many.”

The practice was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2002 for Dance Base, a sculptural insertion of four dance studios in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket which also won the inaugural Doolan Prize.

It has also picked up eight RIBA Awards since it was established in 1993.

The practice was particularly known for its work in Edinburgh, where it landed the £3.5 million conversion of the 19th-century City Observatory into an arts centre earlier this year.

But it also built in other parts of Scotland including Glasgow, Stromness and Stornoway.