Edward Hollis studied Architecture at Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities; and practiced as an architect for six years, first in Sri Lanka, in the practice of Geoffrey Bawa, in Sri Lanka famous for his garden of follies and ruins at Lunuganga; and then in the practice of Richard Murphy, well known for his radical alterations to ancient and historic buildings in and around Edinburgh.
In 1999, Edward Hollis began lecturing in Interior Architecture at Napier University, Edinburgh, working with students both in the design studio, and in more theoretical disciplines. In 2004, he moved to Edinburgh College of Art, where until 2012, he ran undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Interior Design. He currently teaches on the MA in Interior Architectural, and Spatial Design
In 2012, Hollis became Deputy Director of Research, and in 2015, Director of Research across Edinburgh College of Art, co-ordinating our submission to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 in Art, Design and History of Art. Between 2018-20 he was Deputy Dean of Research for College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences assisting staff in developing research interests and projects and developing research themes across a broad array of subjects.
He is currently working on the Una Europa initiative, developing a doctoral environment for interdisciplinary studies in Cultural Heritage.
Ed teaches within interior design programmes, working with students on design projects at MA level in particular on the re-occupation of critical sites around Edinburgh, from the arts centre in the old Edinburgh University Vet School at Summerhall, to the University's re-occupation of the former Royal Infirmary on Lauriston Place.
His teaching focusses on the ways in which we can use the techniques of design, including drawing, model making, and creative writing to articulate and explore theoretical and historical questions about the curious and engaging environments from the past that we re-occupy today.
Working with follies and ruins in Sri Lanka, with modern interventions to historic buildings in Scotland, and in the notoriously slippery discipline of Interiors, has focussed Hollis' research and theoretical thinking on building stories and narrative structures connecting time, folk tale, and the built environment.
His first book, ‘The Secret Lives of Buildings’: a collection of folk tales stories about mythical buildings was published in 2009; and his second ‘The Memory Palace: a book of lost Interiors’ was published in 2013. His third book, ‘How to Make a Home’ was published for the School of Life in 2016. His fourth ‘A Drama in Time’ is a guide to Riddles Court, the oldest house in Edinburgh.
His work also engages with heritage activitism. Between 2012-18 Ed was involved with experimental plans to re-occupy the ruins of Gillespie Kidd and Coia’s modernist seminary at Cardross in Argyll. He is a member of the educational advisory board of the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust. Since 2018 he has been working with the inhabitants of Asansol, a coal-mining town in West Bengal, India, to find innovative ways to celebrate their industrial heritage through storytelling and study. And since 2021 he has been working with the community activist at the Granton:Hub and Una Europa partners on international research projects relating to cultural heritage on the urban periphery.