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Thomson switches from London to head up RIAS

Tamsie Thomson: ‘architecture has a capacity to improve people’s lives’

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has appointed Tamsie Thomson as chief executive.

Ms Thomson, who is currently a managing director of New London Architecture and was previously director of the London Festival of Architecture, will join the organisation in July.

The RIAS is the professional body for all chartered architects in Scotland, and the foremost institute in the country dealing with architecture and the built environment.

The appointment of Ms Thomson is part of a programme of change at the RIAS that will see the organisation expanding its outreach and influence, and demonstrating the importance of architecture to Scotland’s economy, society and culture.

Architecture, for instance, will be central to Scotland’s response to the climate emergency and the country’s post-pandemic future: the RIAS’s voice will therefore need to be heard more urgently than before.

Ms Thomson’s early years were spent in Edinburgh, and she returned to the city to study architecture and housing at Edinburgh College of Art.

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She has been director of the London Festival of Architecture since 2016 and under her leadership it has grown to become the world’s largest annual architecture festival.

Through her experience, drive and determination, she has brought architecture to vast public audiences, challenged the profession and decision-makers through hard-hitting and influential campaigns, and given important opportunities to a new generation of emerging architects and designers.

She has promoted diversity in the architectural profession, and led important work to demonstrate the huge value of architecture to the national economy.

As managing director of New London Architecture, she helped to steer the independent member-supported network for debate, discussion and information about the future shape of London during a period of unparalleled turbulence.


Ms Thomson has also worked at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Shelter and the Civic Trust. She has taught architecture at the University of Brighton, and has been guest critic at several schools of architecture. She is an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA.

She said: “It is a huge privilege to join the RIAS as chief executive, and I am looking forward to moving back to Scotland to take up this exciting role.

“I am a passionate advocate of architecture’s capacity to improve people’s lives, and believe that the RIAS has a huge role to play through its work with members, clients, decision-makers and the public.

At a time of great change for Scotland and Scottish architecture, Tamsie Thomson is the chief executive we were looking for

– Christina Gaiger, RIAS president

“We have a shared purpose to inspire and influence, and to demonstrate the critical role of architects and architecture to Scotland’s cultural, social and economic life.”

The RIAS president, Christina Gaiger, said: “At a time of great change for Scotland and Scottish architecture, Tamsie Thomson is the chief executive we were looking for.

“I am excited to work with her on our mission to collaborate, upskill and harness new technology as architects play their part in addressing the challenges facing society – not least the climate emergency.

“Tamsie has the skills and experience to ensure that RIAS member’s voices are heard, and to support the Scottish architectural community as we work together to transform Scotland’s built environment.”

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