Archibald Alexander Swan Scotland Malaysia Singapore

Biography of Archibald Alexander Swan

Archibald A Swan, BSc graduation album
Archibald A Swan, BSc graduation album

Archibald Alexander Swan graduated BSc from the University in 1877. He was a founding partner in the first professional architectural company in Singapore, Swan & Maclaren, which designed and built the Raffles Hotel in 1899.

Swan was born in Maryhill, Glasgow, son of David, a timber merchant. He enrolled at the University in 1873, aged 16, attending classes in Logic, Mathematics, English Language and Literature, Physics, Civil Engineering and Mechanics, Office and Field Work in Engineering, Chemistry and Geology. During the academic year 1876-77, Swan won prizes for both his senior Civil Engineering and senior Office and Field work classes, as well as being placed third for the Walker Prize for Written Examinations and placed second for the Walker Prize as voted by the class.

Upon graduation in 1877, Swan migrated to Singapore where he set up a civil engineering company, Swan & Lermit, which became Swan & Maclaren in 1892 with the withdrawal of Lermit, and James Waddell Boyd Maclaren as the new partner. They carried out surveys and various construction works from roads, railways, to buildings, and piers throughout the Malay Peninsula and in Johore, Borneo and Sumatra. With the addition of Regent Alfred John Bidwell to the company in 1897, Swan & Maclaren became the dominant architectural firm in Singapore. Their commissions included the Raffles Hotel (1899), the Goodwood Park Hotel (1901) and Victoria Memorial Hall (1905).

Swan was also involved with oilfields and copper mines, as the Chairman of the Caucasus Copper Company. He was elected an Associate Member of The Institution of Civil Engineers on 14 April 1885, and a Member on 19 May 1896.


Other Online Resources

Archival Materials

  • R1/7/1 BSc Graduation Album 1873-1942
  • Sen10/19 University Calendar, 1877-78


Archibald Alexander Swan
Born 6 February 1857.
Died 12 February 1911.
GU Degree: BSc, 1877; Science and Engineering,
University Link: Graduate
Occupation categories: architects; engineers, civil
English snippet: Engineering graduate of the University of Glasgow, and partner of prominent architectural firm in Singapore
Record last updated: 26th Mar 2013

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Maryhill
Place of Birth

Scotland Scotland, Glasgow
Place of Death

Malaysia Malaysia

Singapore Singapore

University Connections

University Roles