Jude Barber, director at Collective Architecture
Charles was a driving force and colourful character at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture when I studied there in the 1990s. His infectious laugh and warm demeanour sat happily alongside his passion and knowledge for architecture – as both an art and a discipline. He inspired so many and will be sorely missed.
As a tutor and critic he brought out a way of seeing and thinking architecturally that embodied rationalism at its core yet sought poetry in its execution. With our shared interest in fields also outside of architecture we became firm friends and established Hutton Rattray Architects. Although short-lived it was that intense period of practice together in all its forms – designing, writing and teaching – that created a professional intimacy that lasted nearly 40 years. We also had great fun together, enjoying abstract and absurd dialogues which left our sides aching from laughter.
Despite his encyclopedic knowledge of architecture, his skills as a designer and his great ability to pass these on to his students, he did not ever take himself too seriously and he could always see and appreciate the funny and absurd sides of life. He was a wonderful writer; organised (if often last minute…), well-informed, precise and to the point, witty and beautifully phrased. His analytical skills and ability to understand buildings were impressive and always a pleasure to witness.
A great character and true gentleman; you will be sorely missed Charles and I thank you for all of your support, enthusiasm, encouragement and words of wisdom.
Robin G Webster, partner at Cameron Webster Architects and former professor of Scott Sutherland School of Architecture
The sudden loss of Charles diminishes all who knew and loved him.
He formed Hutton Rattray Architects with his friend Graeme Hutton a year later but continued teaching at Robert Gordon until 2006.
I felt honoured over the years to be able to work with him, but more importantly to call him a friend. To me to have met him was indeed one of those lucky occurrences that happen only a few times in one’s lifetime. Charles was great company, a brilliant and generous host and he was one of the funniest people I have ever met – he often had me in tears when recounting one of his many anecdotes.
He is survived by his wife and three children
Torsten Schmiedeknecht, co-author with Rattray and Andrew Peckham of the 2007 book Rationalist Traces (Architectural Design), described him as ‘an utterly delightful person’ and ‘one of the funniest people I have ever met’.
During that year, I remember a lot of conversations, crits, late nights, laughter and, gradually, things began to fall into place as I gained more confidence in my position as an architect. I attribute this to the discourse that was encouraged among the students but mostly to the leadership and brilliant tutelage of Charles and Graeme. They ran the unit as a collaborative office, where everyone’s thesis was interrelated and engaged in a dialogue with the existing city where we lived. The approach and attitude to problem-solving that they taught me is still one which I employ today.
Rattray was born in 1956 and studied at the University of Edinburgh before joining William Nimmo & Partners where he worked on the new Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Renfrew Street, Glasgow (1988). The practice was executive architect to project leads Leslie Martin and Ivor Richards.
Anne Walker, design and technology teacher
I recall him arriving as a visiting critic at [Scott Sutherland School of Architecture] during my years there in the 80s. I remember thinking he was way too young to be a tutor. He was charming, had a wry smile and was always chuckling about something or other. He was someone who I recall always being of a happy disposition. He was passionate about architecture and genuinely appeared to love engaging with the students. Sad news.
I was also fortunate to work closely with Charles and Graeme on projects they were undertaking during summer breaks. There was always a pot of strong coffee and classical music blasting out to keep the creative juices flowing.
Graeme Hutton, architect and professor of architecture at University of Dundee
That universities ‘transform lives’ is an often touted epithet, yet, with exposure to the right teachers and an appetite for learning, it is one that I firmly attest to.
Gary Clark, principal at HOK
Charles was a true gentleman. I remember his infectious enthusiasm for architecture, his trademark chuckle after one of his anecdotes and his insightful critique of both student and practising architects’ work. A great loss.
Not only was he a skilled teacher, he was also an excellent writer and editor, and I learned much from the clarity of his analysis and thinking.
He was always ready to share an anecdote, impersonate visiting critics and just have a laugh. I will miss the ruffle of the hair when exasperated by someone or something (often the blue Renault or bicycle breaking down).
He loved to edit architectural magazines, starting when a student in Edinburgh and continuing to do so for a number of different ones, including the Cambridge research publication ARQ, to which he brought a lightness of touch, a graphic elegance and a focus on the core subject of architecture.
David Henderson, director at Glenn Howells Architects
Charles was a real character, always enthusiastic and passionate about architecture and teaching. I was part of a great weekend masterclass with him along with Richard MacCormac and David Lea up in Cromarty in 1990, he didn’t wait for the car to come to a stop before he got out of the door. I hope that all who knew him carry a bit of that spirit.
Rattray had already been a visiting critic and studio tutor for six years at the Aberdeen-based Scott Sutherland School of Architecture at Robert Gordon University before he was appointed lecturer and studio leader in 1991.
Hugh Cullum, Hugh Cullum Architects
Charles was a wonderful enthusiast, always with a twinkle in his eye which belied a wry sense of humour and healthy dose of scepticism. He very kindly wrote about our practice a few times and, most notably, wrote a chapter in our practice book published by Blackdog (one of the last through their doors).
In 2016, work completed on an extension to his own home in Marchbank, Bieldside, just outside Aberdeen, which was designed with emerging practice Baillie Baillie and Ross Aitchison, now of Collective Architecture.
A trained architect, Rattray spent more than 25 years lecturing at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the University of Dundee as well as writing numerous books and contributing to the UK’s main architectural magazines, including the AJ.
He opened my eyes to so much of architecture
He loved finding new practices that were quietly delivering high-quality thinking and buildings