Chapman died last month after a long illness

Oliver Chapman

OCA Studio founder Oliver Chapman

Tributes have been paid to OCA Studio founder Oliver Chapman following his death at the age of 54.

Chapman died last month after a long illness, according to the Edinburgh-based practice.

In a statement, the firm said: “We are deeply saddened to share the news of the death of our founding director, Oliver Chapman.

“Oliver cared deeply about his craft. His interest in architecture ran the gamut of the profession; city place-making to careful detailing; ideas and conversation; his care for his community, collaborators, students and colleagues; always exploring, learning and sharing.

“While the time will come to talk about his legacy, right now we are feeling the loss of our mentor, colleague and friend. Our thoughts are with his wife Tessa and his family.”

Originally called Oliver Chapman Architects, OCA Studio initially designed furniture before expanding into various building types, and now works with large-scale clients including housing associations, community and arts organisations and Scottish Canals.

Chapman has received numerous awards for his work, including RIAS and RIBA National Awards in 2021 for The Egg Shed, a restoration and extension of a historic former industrial building on Loch Gilp.

He started his career as an architectural assistant at MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, later spending four years working at Richard Murphy Architects (RMA) before founding his own firm in 1997. He was also a part-time lecturer at the Universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Heriot-Watt.

OCA Studio director Martin Lambie said Chapman had “great talent, but wore it lightly”.

“Oliver was a brilliant mentor, colleague and friend,” he said. “I will always be grateful for the time I had working alongside him, learning so much from his considered, compassionate approach to both architecture and life.

“Both the manner in which he practised and the work he leaves behind nurtured a sense of community, and it has been heartening to hear how many people will remember him so fondly.”

> Also read: Oliver Chapman completes Borders housing scheme

Tributes also flooded in from across the architecture profession following news of Chapman’s death.

RMA director James Mason said: “Very sad news indeed but will retain all the good memories from when we worked together in those very early RMA days. Condolences to all his family and all at OCA for everyone’s sad loss.”

Bennetts Associates director Hames Nelmes said: “As a Part 1 at Richard Murphy Architects, I plagued Ollie with inane questions. As a Part 2 I worked in Ollie’s front room in Tollcross when he founded his practice. 

“Later still, when I returned to Edinburgh we lived on the same street and our children went to primary school together. So many memories. Most of all I remember Ollie’s thoughtfulness and talent.”

James Taylor, London studio chair at Woods Bagot, said he would remember Chapman “fondly as the always smiling optimist working with him at RMA in Edinburgh”.

Alex Reeves, associate at Architype, started his career in architecture doing work experience with Chapman. 

“He mentored me through applications to university and always sent a kind message whenever I made a career milestone. I was only a small part of his journey, but he was a big part in mine,” he said, adding: “He was kind, generous and passionate about Architecture and those who practice it.”

David Fortin, who taught with Chapman at Edinburgh University, described him as “such a thoughtful intellect, engaged colleague and a crazy talented design thinker”. 

“My deepest condolences go to his colleagues, friends and family. He will be missed,” he added.

Bogle Architects founder and creative director Ian Bogle said: “My condolences to Oliver’s family - we were at Art School together - a terribly sad loss.”