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St Peter’s Seminary sees the light after 30 years of decay

May 19 2015

St Peter’s Seminary sees the light after 30 years of decay
Arts organisation NVA has announced it is to move on-site within days to deliver an ambitious culture-led regeneration of the former St Peter’s Seminary, Kilmahew, Argyll.

The £7.5m project will see the woodland site closed off later this week to allow a clean-up and renovation of the former seminary to proceed, with the aim of re-opening the iconic building for a specially commissioned light show next spring ahead of full completion by the end of the year.

Avanti Architects, Nord and ERZ landscape architects have been commissioned to draw up the plans, which would see the evocative structure turned into a performing arts venue hosting a range of concerts, exhibitions and festivals.

NVA creative director Angus Farquhar, said: “The best way to describe what we plan to do with St Peter’s is to look back at the impact that the Tramway arts centre had when it opened in Glasgow in 1990 with the late 20th-century use of an old industrial space.

“It allowed a lot of large scale work, both national and international, to happen for the first time. I think St Peter’s will take its place.”


Shiny Beast
#1 Posted by Shiny Beast on 19 May 2015 at 11:41 AM
Can't see it taking the place of the Tramway. It's up a hill at the back of Cardross. A bit of a hike for your average international Arts patron arriving in Glasgow
D to the R
#2 Posted by D to the R on 19 May 2015 at 13:55 PM
I really hope this doesn't fail. I think this is probably the last real attempt at a renovation and re-use of this awe-inspiring modern marvel. It could and should be the pinnacle of our GKC heritage and it's incredulous that it hasn't been better looked after. Fingers crossed.
#3 Posted by modernish on 19 May 2015 at 15:28 PM
Best of luck, this building is inspirational.
Edward Harkins
#4 Posted by Edward Harkins on 19 May 2015 at 19:41 PM
I'm with those who wish this inspirational example of culture-led development well - don't really think that Scotland's cultural vitality can depend on those folks who're willing to travel no further than the tramway ;-)
#5 Posted by james on 19 May 2015 at 20:00 PM
I was fortunate enough to have visited the building in 1976 and only once years later when it had become a ruin and had a touch of Tarkovsky's Stalker about it.
It's an interesting video of the building. Part of me just wants it to be left as a ruin; that which can only be said with silence. My gut feel is I don't really care much it becoming the artifice of a backdrop for 'art', but understand a community willingness to make something of it and the environmental need for it to be made safe.
The most poignant thing said in the video for me was that it is a record of the demise of catholicism in Scotland and that 'period' of architecture (notably, La Tourette and Spence's Abbotsinch). The point is its gone, however, it was and is still a beautiful thing.
#6 Posted by Sven on 20 May 2015 at 09:02 AM
I said that many times but this building should be left to ruin: and I am one that thinks that Scotland has too many ruins. A cultural lead regeneration scheme sounds wonderful but the commercial reality is that it is too remote and too ugly to be realistic. Cardross whilst having a railway station is realistically too far from where most paying punters want to be: central or west end Glasgow. It is also too ugly and unloveable for paying punters to want to go a visit it. Hill House in further away Helensburgh gets less than 15,000 paying visitors per year and that is an internationally known MacIntosh building that is genuinely interesting and utterly loveable. St Peters seminary only appeals to architects. It was and is a failed building and very badly designed for the local climate. I wonder who these astro-turf campaigners are who crawl out of the woodwork every few years to try to restore the corpse of this failed building? I suppose it is the way of the internet of allowing people with very niche interests to get together in very small numbers and be a mouse that roars.

£7.5 million would be better spent restoring many building sin our towns and cities, where many more people by a number of factors would see and appreciate it.
Bella Gamba
#7 Posted by Bella Gamba on 20 May 2015 at 10:06 AM
Lived in Helensburgh. Visited it in its glory days when it was still in use as a seminary. Thought it an ugly building. Would not be sad to see it demolished.
Big Chantelle
#8 Posted by Big Chantelle on 20 May 2015 at 12:01 PM
The building is abysmal -- it never worked as a seminary, it leaked and thus, architecturally, was a complete failure.But hey ho, it's a 'masterpiece'. Yep.

You liberal lefties like to romanticise about your modernist past pretending this buildings is somehow important and 'great' and a gift to humanity.

The Sistine chapel ceiling is great. The halls of Versailles are great. The Colosseum is great (and a ruin worthy of remaining).

This concrete lump is testament to a time when the concrete modernist brigade started raping Scotland of its beauty to impose their concrete liberal vision onto society -- tenements ripped down to make way for concrete, asbestos filled towers, streets raised to make way for 'shopping complexes' a la Anderston. The roofs leak, the concrete stains, mould forms everywhere and no-one can actually inhabit the building because it is so poorly designed, yet you all sit here teary eyed talking about its abstract wonder.

Rip it down. It is a travesty that nearly £8million is being spend to indulge the fantasies of lefties when so many other genuinely great buildings and institutions could really benefit from financial help.
#9 Posted by modernish on 20 May 2015 at 12:23 PM
@#8 - as you have said yourself many times, it's not all about you. Thanks for you input, your thoughts are noted.
Art Vandelay
#10 Posted by Art Vandelay on 20 May 2015 at 12:32 PM
2/10. You're slipping, doll.
#11 Posted by wonky on 20 May 2015 at 12:33 PM Big Chantelle here's a museum you ought to visit sometime...although I don't know if it would help your blood pressure!
Big Chantelle
#12 Posted by Big Chantelle on 20 May 2015 at 13:07 PM
Could wonky and co perhaps use the comments section to articulate THEIR views. They seem more interested in me. Just putting that out there.

#13 Posted by Hingwy on 20 May 2015 at 13:11 PM
BC, remember a few years ago when you first joined and called yourself 'Big Chantelle' and posted satirical comments reflecting the 'view of the common man/wifey (hence the name)? But then you went all serious and 'fighty'. I prefer the old days.
Big Chantelle
#14 Posted by Big Chantelle on 20 May 2015 at 14:04 PM
No Hingwy, I don't recall those bygone days, but thank you for having such a good memory of me so as to attempt to define 'me' over the course of a several years.

Do you have a view on the article or are you merely here, like wonky and co to troll me? Oh, the latter.............
#15 Posted by james on 20 May 2015 at 15:29 PM
Ok then Big Chantelle, pleased to meet you. I'll oblige you just this once, but I will not enter into any dialogue over this matter. Please allow me to put an argument to you and then respond by all means and I'll leave it at that. Ok? Good. Oh! and if you do respond, you MUST keep to the straight and narrow of the argument i will put forward. Thanks.

It seems to me that the arguments on this forum between your view and those of others have reached a stalemate. Let me put it another way then, to see if any progress can be made. If we take another artistic discipline (which is just as hard a ticket as the art of architecture) such as painting or even poetry, can you tell me the name of a single poet alive who would write something in the 'style' of Wordsworth? e.g. 'I wondered lonely as a cloud' etc.? No? I didn't think so. Similarly, how about a composer writing music that sounds just like Bach? No? Or a painter who is alive and paints like Gainsborough? No? So what does that tell me?

The reason is that no one does this is because it is INAUTHENTIC - It just doesn't do it. It does not chime TRUE with the age we live in. It would be a lie. Do you know of any author alive who writes using prose like Melville or Dickens? No. Events have passed since and so with events, time. That period no longer exists. God alone knows (and it really wouldn't interest me to even hazard a guess) why it would seem that only architects entertain this malarkey.
I remember being in Richmond and looked up at the suspended lay-in ceiling within a Quinlan Terry office building and simply thought, now, you haven't really thought this through, have you?

The crux of this argument is that of the notion of authenticity.
Big Chantelle
#16 Posted by Big Chantelle on 20 May 2015 at 16:15 PM

1. I never asked for dialogue with you or to be obliged. YOU took it upon yourself to engage. You did that. And I'll respond how I see fit -- not dictated by terms.
2. Your music analogies are silly -- music and architecture and not necessarily comparable. Music is not a 3d, tangible form like bricks and mortar buildings. But nonetheless, people are free to play, create and enjoy the past classics.Music represents human emotion -- thus can change, morph and grow to suit the times in a way architecture really can't. Buildings, unlike melodies have to serve a completely functional issue -- namely, to provide shelter to people. The style they take on tends to come after the fact. House that can't house,schools which are not fit for purpose, stadia which offer poor sightlines are considered architecture failures. Music with slight mistakes can represents not so much a failure but rather human emotion and its plethora of feeling. Comparing realife tangible art to intangible is fraught with difficulty.
3.Your argument as to why traditional architecture shouldn't exist, citing a critique of your own over a Quinlan Terry building rests on this notion "It does not chime TRUE with the age we live in. It would be a lie" > my response is : who gets to decide what is fit for the age we live in? Who? Tell me. What scientific formula exists which PROVES that buildings with ornament and particular aesthetics are not for our time? Show me it.Why? Why is a rectangular, white rendered doorway superior to an ornate rounded palladian archway? Why can't we have the latter? Who does it harm? What does it harm?

Things are only as authentic or inauthentic as we -- as a society -- make them. And there's no scientific reason as to why, in aesthetic terms, buildings with ornament like in the past cannot exist so long as they don't compromise ecological factors. And as has been shown, many 'old' buildings, conversely, outperform their 'modern' counterparts. Oh the irony.Buildings which serve particular functions, like homes, and are not subject to the same factsors as say, office buildings. Why can't domestic dwellings reflect people's desires for ornate and intricate stonework if this is of no harm to the environment?

What you are doing James is saying that certain architectural styles are a fit for their particular age but offering no reason as to why in a developed age -- like today-- where we have a choice over what we can do, having ecologically sound buildings with ornamental aesthetics (aesthetics MOST human beings prefer) is wrong. You worship at the alter of a stylistic lefty ideology. And you can't actually PROVE your thesis of authenticity. It's just an ideology you have absorbed via university, television, lecturers, magazines, your political beliefs and so forth.

Human beings have always utilised the technology of their time in the most appropriate way. I respect that. But today's architecture is largely crap based upon value engineered nothingness but as long as it doesn't contain a pillar, archway or anything remotely 'baroque, traditional, gothic' etc, people like you say it is more authentic and a 'fit' for today. I'm asking why.

#17 Posted by ooctopus on 20 May 2015 at 17:04 PM
The Pantheon has an oculus in its roof which leaks and thus, architecturally, is a complete failure.

Love you Chantelle.
#18 Posted by Roddy on 20 May 2015 at 20:50 PM
Wonderful to see that a building that has inspired generations of Scottish architects will survive and be re-interpreted.
In terms of post-war buildings I cannot think of another that is as important to the nation as this. Good luck to all involved.
Bairn's Nairn
#19 Posted by Bairn's Nairn on 20 May 2015 at 22:37 PM
I agree with #6, Sven - this building is mainly loved by architects & architectural historians, and was never beautiful (though bold). It should be made safe and access made available for those who want to see it. I can't see it working commercially due to its location, and as Sven put it "it was and is a failed building and very badly designed for the local climate" so if faithfully restored it will leak, but by all means preserve it as (depending on your point of view) an example of 'how to' or 'how not to' do it.
#20 Posted by Egbert on 21 May 2015 at 09:56 AM
#16 Big Chantelle, you've come over all articulate, passionate and reasoned. I must say it suits you better than the scattergun rants at straw man 'lefties', apologetic apostrophes and ad hominem attacks for which you're better known on here. I'm beginning to suspect there might be a thoughtful - if rather angry and perennially bewildered - person in there. More of this 'Big Chantelle' please.
#21 Posted by Egbert on 21 May 2015 at 09:56 AM
PS. BC are you in fact David Stark?
Bairn's Nairn
#22 Posted by Bairn's Nairn on 21 May 2015 at 18:10 PM
#17 - The difference I suppose is the Pantheon was supposed to leak, the design catered for it, and it's in sunny Rome. Here it was not supposed to leak and is in Argyll. Fail.

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