College of Science & Engineering

KB101: celebrating a century of science and engineering

On 6th July 1920, King George V laid the foundation stone for the first of the buildings that would form part of The University of Edinburgh's new Science campus, relocated from its former Old College premises.


We have been working with the Schools for many months to create a year-long schedule of talks and events celebrating the College’s history known as ‘KB100’, with a launch event planned for the day of the 100th birthday of King’s Buildings campus on 6 July. However, given the current situation we have decided it would be best to postpone KB100 for one year, becoming KB101 and starting instead in July 2021. This is to be mindful of Covid-19 pandemic impacts on wellbeing and to give the staff involved the chance to focus on the much greater priorities of getting ready for the coming academic year and restarting research.

Citation Dave RobertsonHead of the College of Science and Engineering
King George V opening Kings Buildings
King George V opening Kings Buildings 6 July 2020

A celebration

KB101, starting in July 2021, will be a celebration of University scientific history and contribution, but it's about much more than a collection of buildings or the geography of KB: it's about our scientists and the discoveries they have made that have changed the world. We will celebrate our history of achievements with links to current achievers and links to recruitment messages around who will be the next generation to stand on the shoulders of these giants. 

A history – part one 

The centenary project involves the gathering of historical materials from the College over the century, and these will be used to create a narrative spine for the overall event. Throughout this year we will publish short articles that introduce our audience to the unfolding events on our campus, and across the entire College. 

The first article – The seeds of a new campus: 1919–1290

Centenary events 

The events and outcomes listed below may be subject to change as we approach July of next year and the social, educational and financial impacts of covid-19 are better understood. Many other events are under discussion, and will be announced during the coming year. 

The College Centenary Lecture Series 

A series of lectures will take place in which leading figures from each School will present talks covering the history of research at the College: a mixture of past, present and future predications. These talks will be bookended by keynote lectures, discussing the challenges facing the University in the next century. The lectures will be accompanied by exhibitions, panel sessions, tours and other events. 

The lecture series as currently planned is as follows: 

Keynote #1  Opinion versus Fact: the challenges facing Universities in the next century 
Physics & Astronomy The Universe: Reality or Simulation? 
EPCC  To the Exascale and beyond: the history and future of supercomputing 
Biological Sciences The Coming Century of Biology:  Growing a way to Sustainability 
Engineering  Renewable Energy: Edinburgh’s first (and second) half-centuries 
Mathematics When Ideas meet Data: Connections across Mathematics and Statistics 
Chemistry From pioneering discoveries to protecting our planet: Edinburgh's School of Chemistry 
Informatics TBC
GeoSciences Realising a Climate Enlightenment: The Past, Present and Potential Future for Edinburgh, Scotland and the World


College Public Engagement: Doors Open Day 2021 / Lab visit week 2022 

In September of 2021 we will undertake the largest public engagement event ever held in the University, when Doors Open Day is extended to include all Schools, with public events at KB and elsewhere. In June of 2022 we will close the centenary period with a major event for local schools, with lab visits, talks and presentations. 


100faces, 100objects and 100events 

One core project underway for KB101 is '100faces', which involves the collection of biographical material for a gallery of notable scientists and staff: images and biographies, suitable for an interactive gallery, for publication, or online (past and present, and looking to the future). An associated '100objects'publication and exhibition will also be unveiled. The '100events' historical timeline of the College will also be published, marked by the major events and discoveries over the century. 

We are also conducting interviews with alumni, staff and students, as the beginning of a permanent archive of video and audio materials reflecting the history of science at the University over the last hundred years. 


Katie Paterson portrait
Katie Paterson

The Centenary Art Commission 

To celebrate the centenary, the College has commissioned Scots artist Katie Paterson to produce a major campus artwork that will reflect the past and present history of science and engineering at the University, and to offer a legacy to campus, long after the anniversary passes.  

The work is a series of unique artworks, called Ideas, which will be sited in different locations across the KB campus. Emerging from in-depth collaborative research and painstaking editing, they are a lifelong body of work by Paterson which take the form of short haiku like three-lined sentences cut in bronze. They will be installed outside and inside of buildings, in hidden unexpected places and at varying heights.  

At the heart of Katie’s method of making is direct collaboration with scientists and researchers to create projects that consider a wide range of scientific disciplines, questions and theories.  


Permaculture Garden Logo


The KB Permaculture Garden 

The King’s Building Permaculture Garden, to be opened during the centenary year, is a student-led project aiming to create a platform that allows the University and other communities to connect around a growing space at the rear of Murchison House. The design of the garden and the organisation of the social aspects are all inspired by the Permaculture principles. You can find out more about the project at their blog and social media channels: 

Blog site




UncoverED logo





UncoverEd II: Science and Engineering 1920–2020 

As part of the centenary programme, the College has commissioned a student-led project called UncoverEd II, as a sequel to the current UncoverEd exhibition, an online version of which is at the link below.

 UncoverEd is a collaborative and decolonising research project, which aims to situate the ‘global’ status of the University of Edinburgh in its rightful imperial and colonial context. We believe this work is important because the University has a long and largely under-interrogated global history with deep imperial and colonial implications, many of which continue to the present day. This project encourages the University of Edinburgh’s community to reflect on its imperial past and how it played a part in Edinburgh’s status as a ‘global’ university.

UncoverED creator


The UncoverED II exhibition, which will concentrate on the history of BAME students in the College over the past century, will be launched in late 2021 as part of the revised KB101 schedule. 

UncoverED exhibition


kb101 photo comp

The Centenary photography competition 

As part of our KB101 celebrations we have announced a photography competition for College staff and students to showcase life and work in the College of Science and Engineering. The closing date for the competition has been changed to October 2021; full details are at the link below. 


The KB101 photography competition


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