AESTHETICA / St. Peter’s Seminary

 

Location

Cardross, Scotland

Architects

Gillespie, Kidd & Cola

Date

1966

Background

After the original St. Peter’s Seminary was damaged in a fire, plans for a new building began to take shape. Considered one of the most significant examples of modernist architecture in Scotland, the new seminary also incorporated an old mansion existing on the estate into its design. The design also fits firmly into the Brutalist architecture1movement, with rectangular, modular outer walls and the widespread use of concrete. In 1980, the seminary closed, and, aside from a brief period of use as a drug rehabilitation center in the late eighties, the building has been abandoned since. Left to the elements, the skeletal, graffitied building remains an imposing modernist monument which may now get another lease on life as an arts venue.

Impressions

NOTE: Though ostensibly closed to the public, we were fortunate enough to visit St. Peter’s Seminary as part of the Hinterland event by NVA for the launch of the 2016 Festival of Architecture in Scotland. The event featured light installations and projections within the building and grounds as well as a choral soundtrack. For a short glimpse, see the video below.

We were dropped off at the edge of tangled woods and handed glowing walking sticks as our only aid against the darkness. On the other side we encountered St. Peter’s Seminary: a hulking slab of concrete by day, but on this night, a cathedral-like presence. We walked slowly through the grounds, accompanied by haunting soundtrack and waving our lights in dark corners, illuminating the usual signs of ruin (graffiti, trash, puddles) as if they were secret messages. Concrete as a building material usually brings to mind “cold parking garage,” but here, the combination of arches and rectangles felt warm, playful. The air of hushed reverence and candlelight served as a constant reminder of the building’s religious origins. Perhaps it’s no surprise the whole atmospheric evening felt fraught with meaning; after all, it signified something abandoned being brought back to life.

📷 : Cardross, Scotland / March 2016

See also:

Scotland Dossier

And . . .

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