Calling all Russian speakers!

The catalogue for the Mackintosh exhibition, The Kremlin Museum

The catalogue for the Mackintosh exhibition, The Kremlin Museum

Glasgow School of Art’s curator Peter Trowles, or Питер Троулес, as he is known in Russian, has recently returned from a trip to Moscow where he gave a lecture on the architecture of Mackintosh’s masterpiece The Glasgow School of Art, as part of an international Mackintosh exhibition at The Kremlin Museum. Crucially, this was first time Mackintosh’s work has been seen in Moscow since 1903. The exhibition included works loaned from around the world, including many from Glasgow Museums. Sadly as a result of the fire that occurred in the Mackintosh Building earlier this year we were no longer able to loan works to this exhibition as planned, however Peter was still able to visit the exhibition, which has also seen the publication of a beautiful catalogue (see above) – unfortunately only available in Russian – and to give his lecture as part of a series of talks by British Mackintosh experts.

Glasgow School of Art's Curator Peter Trowles prepares for his Russian screen debut

Glasgow School of Art’s Curator Peter Trowles prepares for his Russian screen debut

During his time in Moscow, in a surreal twist to proceedings Peter appeared on the Russian equivalent of Newsnight to speak about the School’s Mackintosh collection and the relationship between Mackintosh and the city of Glasgow. You can watch a video of Peter’s debut on Russian television here – though sadly it’s been dubbed so will only make sense to those of you who can speak Russian! We’re sure however that what Peter had to say was very interesting…

You can find out more about the exhibition, which ran from 5th Sep 2014-9th Nov 2014, here.

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An ‘Uneasy Balance’.

Now that the Reid Building has opened, architects, and the public alike, will finally get a chance to look inside the building and see whether or not this space works as an art school. At the recent screening of ‘Facing Up to Mackintosh’ a discussion between Stuart MacDonald and David Reid highlighted the need to examine the interior of the building and its merits alongisde that of the exterior (seek out #artscreen on twitter for some of the comments reflecting the reception of this event and documentary).

Outside The Reid and The Mackintosh Building on opening day.

Outside The Reid and The Mackintosh Building on opening day

Even before its completion The Reid Building had succeeded in sparking a lively discussion around its merits and potential detractors, a discussion that is likely to continue as it settles into its new home.

One of the 'Driven Void' columns inside The Reid Building.

One of the ‘Driven Void’ columns inside The Reid Building.

The GSA’s own Johnny Rodger and Christopher Platt have added to this debate with their published articles in ‘Uneasy Balance’, and ‘Putting Hall and Mackintosh in multi-perspective: the new building at the Glasgow School of Art’ in the Architectural Research Quarterly Journal, by Johnny Rodgers.

'Uneasy Balance' Front Cover

‘Uneasy Balance’ Front Cover

This book contains four essays in total and an interview with Steven holl discussing the design concept and some of his working practices. Included are some specially commissioned photographs as well as sketches and drawings that can only help enhance an understanding of the process behind this buildings creation. This book is available from the GSA Mackintosh Building Shop for £15, and is now available in the GSA library for perusal for anyone wishing to investigate the creative process and intial reception of this space.

Second floor of The Reid Building

Second floor of The Reid Building

Endangered St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross awarded lottery funding

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Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s A-listed St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, thought by some to be a landmark example of Modernist architecture, has been awarded £565,000 of Heritage Lottery funding.

The Heritage Lottery Fund award will allow NVA to develop plans to restore St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. However NVA will still need to raise a further £7.5 million to finish the project. NVA aims to partially restore parts of the seminary, including the chapel, and maintain the rest of the site as a modern ruin which can be visited.

Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA, said: “The seminary building is held in high regard throughout the world. It has now been given the chance of a second life after 25 years of decline. Now, nearly 50 years on from the day it opened, we witness the first steps in a new and radical form of regeneration; one that accepts loss and ruination as part of the site history and sets out a mission to imaginatively re-use a great late modernist structure and in so doing, reflect the same social dynamism and ambition with which it was conceived.”

GSA Archives and Collections holds and cares for the archive of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, which includes original plans, job files and photographs relating to the seminary at Cardross. See our website for more information, or take a look at our previous blog posts about Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s St Bride’s Church in East Kilbride scoops third prize in Top 10 modern church in Britain

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s St Bride’s Church in East Kilbride has scooped the third prize in the UK’s Top 10 Best Modern Churches.

GKCCEK/2/2/31 Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's St Bride's church, East Kilbride

GKCCEK/2/2/31 Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s St Bride’s church, East KilbrideGKC/CEK/2/2/30 Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's St Bride's church in East KilbrideGKC/CEK/2/2/30 Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s St Bride’s church in East Kilbride

The Church of St Bride was the the first Roman Catholic Church to be built in the new town of East Kilbride, near Glasgow. The church which accommodates 700 to 800 people is prominently sited on a high bank overlooking Whitemoss Rd., between Laigh Common and Platthorn R.C. School.  In addition to the Church there are two sacristies, a presbytery for the parish priest and two curates and a 90 foot high campanile.  The group of buildings were designed to form a piazza bounded on one side by the tall Church entrance wall, the second side by the Sacristy link and on the third by the low presbytery. The remaining side is formed by the top of the bank and is partially screened by the long side of the tower. The plan of the Church is in the form of a broad rectangle, devoid of side aisles and apsidal end, with a freestanding side gallery under which are placed side chaple, confessional and baptistry. The church furnishings are simply conceived in timber of a rugged quality matching the timber finishings. The altars, pulpit and font are made of natural stone. As well as this new accolade, the Church has also received a Civic Trust Award.

The winners of ‘The UK’s Best Modern Churches’ competition were announced at a ceremony held at Lambeth Palace on 7 November 2013. The competition was run by the National Churches Trust in association with the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA) and the 20th Century Society. Over 200 churches were nominated for the competition by the public, parishes and architects, which was open to church buildings or significant extensions to an existing building from any Christian denomination in the United Kingdom which opened for worship after 1 January 1953. From a shortlist of 24 churches, judges selected the top 10 Best Modern Churches. These are:

1) St Paul’s Church, Bow Common, London, E3 4AR by Robert Maguire & Keith Murray, 1960: Winner National Churches Trust Diamond Jubilee Award

2) St Mary’s RC Church, Leyland, Lancashire, PR25 1PD by Jerzy Faczynski of Weightman and Bullen, 1964, Grade II Listed: Winner National Churches Trust Silver Award

3) St Bride’s RC Church, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, G74 1NN by Gillespie Kidd and Coia (Isi Metzstein and Andy Macmillan), 1964, Scottish Listing Category A: Winner National Churches Trust Bronze Award

4) Bishop Edward King Chapel, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford, OX44 9EX by Niall McLaughlin Architects, 2013

5) St Mark’s Church, Broomhill, Sheffield, S10 2SE by George Pace, 1963 Grade II

6) St Francis Xavier RC Church, Falkirk, FK1 5AT by A R Conlin, 1961

7) Scargill Chapel, Skipton, Yorkshire, BD23 5HU by George Pace, 1960 Grade II*

8) St Paul the Apostle, Harringay, London, N4 1RW by Inskip & Jenkins, 1991

9) Kildrum Parish Church, Cumbernauld, G67 2JG by Reiach & Hall, 1965

10) St Paul’s Church, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1LP  by Derrick Humphrys & Hurst, 1959 Grade II

10) SS Mary and Joseph RC Church, Poplar, London, E14 6EZ by Adrian Gilbert Scott, 1954

You can find out more about the competition and find out about the other entrants on the Best Modern Churches Award website. For more information about Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, take a look at our previous blog posts.

CAST: Innovations in Concrete Exhibition featuring Gillespie, Kidd and Coia

thumb_9397_screen-shot-2013-10-04-at-17-31-06CAST: innovations in concrete , an exhibition which opens later this week at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, will explore the versatility and development of concrete. It shows how concrete has allowed designers to create complex, previously impossible, forms such as the flexible concrete diving platform at the London Olympic Aquatic Centre designed by Zaha Hadid.

Concrete is used more than any other man-made material on the planet and is perhaps thought of as a modern material but it can be found in the pyramids of Giza, was perfected by the Romans and has been continuously developed through the centuries to the point where it can be used to make everything from canoes and vanilla-scented concrete.

St Peter's Seminary, Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.

St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia

The exhibition – which takes a Scottish perspective – features the work of architect’s Gillespie, Kidd & Coia and uses images of their celebrated St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross from our archives.

The exhibition explores everything from the use of concrete use in defence, leisure and play to how it has been used to support the renewable energy sector and improving transport and communications in remote areas. It also looks at how the increased re-use and use of reclaimed materials in concrete is changing the perception of concrete in terms of its environmental sustainability. The exhibition will also give the visitor a chance to see how concrete is created and the impact it has on our culture, built environment and architecture.

A Seminar Programme examining the key themes has been designed to complement the exhibition. For information about related events and seminars visit the Architecture and Design Scotland website.

The exhibition opens on 11 October in Gallery 2, Level 2, The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, and runs until 28 November 2013. For more information visit the website.

Saving a Century photography exhibition

saving a century

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (Strathclyde Group) and the Victorian Society are holding a photographic exhibition entitled Saving a Century, curated by noted architectural historian Gavin Stamp. The exhibition will be on show at the Mitchell Library, Granville Street, Glasgow, G3 7DN from 1 – 30 October, Monday to Saturday. Free admission.

The exhibition includes:

VICTORIAN BUILDINGS LOST BEFORE 1958 – A photographic survey of some of the best Victorian buildings destroyed in the first half of the twentieth century, among them Crystal Palace (burnt down 30th November 1936), Trentham Hall, Staffordshire (abandoned by the 4th Duke of Sutherland in 1906 and demolished five years later) and Queen’s Park Church, Glasgow (Scotland’s worst architectural loss of the Second World War).

THE FOUNDATION OF THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY – Photographs and material from the opening meetings of the Society. Early members included architect Hugh Casson, architectural historian Christopher Hussey, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Sir John Betjeman.

THE EUSTON MURDER AND OTHER CASES – Photographs and text documenting the bitter battle for the Euston Arch, as well some of the Victorian Society’s other early defeats. There were early victories too, among them the Oxford University Museum, proposed for demolition in 1961 to make way for new science buildings. The Victorian Society also succeeded in getting the Broad Street Building of Balliol College listed, after it was threatened with a re-build in 1963.

VICTORY IN WHITEHALL – Photographs charting the heroic, ten-year campaign against plans to demolish much of the historic square mile, including nearly every building south of Downing Street and Richmond Terrace. Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Foreign Office, Richard Norman Shaw’s New Scotland Yard and Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square were among the buildings proposed for demolition.

PLACES OF WORSHIP – A photographic survey of some of the historic churches, chapels and synagogues with which the Victorian Society has been involved. As churches are exempt from the secular planning system, it can be particularly difficult to guard them against insensitive change. With falling attendance figures and a growing number of redundant places of worship, the future of our best churches is one of the biggest challenges facing heritage campaigners today.

RAILWAY BUILDINGS – Photographs of some of the key buildings the Victorian Society fought for, as the closure of many branch and other railway lines resulted in the redundancy of numerous stations, bridges and viaducts. That many pioneering and magnificent railway structures, such as St Pancras Station, survive today, often still in use, is very much owing to the efforts of the Society.

IRON, GLASS & STONE – Photographs of some of the most innovative nineteenth century buildings, among them Clevedon Pier, Islington’s Royal Agricultural Hall and Bradford’s Kirkgate Market, for which the Victorian Society has fought.

THE FUNCTIONAL TRADITION – Photographs of some of the most impressive industrial buildings for which the Society has fought. With the decline of the traditional industries of the North of England after the Second World War, many mills and warehouses became redundant while many Northern towns and cities became ashamed of their Victorian industrial legacy and anxious to replace it with something new. The Victorian Society, along with bodies such as SAVE Britain’s Heritage, argued that nineteenth century industrial buildings were evocative and substantial structures which were not only of historical importance but capable of gainful re-use.

THE PURPLE OF COMMERCE – Photographs of some of the most significant Victorian commercial buildings to have come under threat in the last fifty years. Built partly as self-advertisements and partly to inspire confidence, these ambitious and substantial banks, offices and warehouses too often fall victim to redevelopment schemes.

COUNTRY HOUSES – Photographs of some of the grandest country houses to have been the subject of Victorian Society campaigns, among them Shadwell Park, Tyntesfield and Highcliffe Castle. Rendered redundant by social and cultural changes, some of the most famous large houses were demolished between the wars while many more disappeared in the 1950s.

DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE – A collection of photographs of some of the Victorian villas and terraced houses for which the Victorian Society has fought. Often extravagant and fanciful buildings, these buildings are regularly demolished to allow higher density developments in their grounds or make way for flats.

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS – A photographic survey of some of the best municipal buildings that have been saved or lost. Physical embodiments of the Victorians’ strong sense of civic pride and duty, many of these splendid town halls, libraries, swimming pools, museums, art galleries and post offices still add much to the rich character of British towns and cities today.

BEACONS OF THE FUTURE – A survey of some of the Society’s most recent campaigns, focusing on the battle for Victorian schools and swimming pools. Among the battles highlighted are the protest and funeral for Bonner School, the Public Inquiry for Easington Colliery School and the local campaign for the Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham.

THE VICTORIANS VICTORIOUS – Photographs of some of the most notable Victorian buildings used and valued today.

In conjunction with the exhibition, James Macaulay will present Saving a Century?, a talk at the Mitchell Library on Tuesday 1 October at 6.00. All welcome. Admission £4.00.

Click here for further information: SAC Glasgow poster _2013_JMacaulay_poster_rev G

New RCAHMS digital image library

RCAHMS, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, has recently made thousands of images available in a new online digital image library. Through active surveying and recording programmes, RCAHMS adds new online images to the Canmore database every day. These include interior and exterior views of buildings and archaeological sites, aerial photographs, and digital drawings, all of which may be of interest as inspiration for artists, architects and designers.

RCAHMS also maintains an active digitisation programme of its Collection items, copying photographs and historic views, photograph albums, original architects’ drawings and new survey drawings, engravings and sketches, books and maps, and also receives material from external depositors and accessions.

When you search Canmore for buildings or archaeological sites of interest, anything from the Collections that has already been digitised will be shown (excluding copyright restricted images). There are already 200,000 digital images available online.

Furthermore, all images can be purchased as digital images, photographic prints or poster prints by clicking the Order Image link below each image.

Portobello Pier in Edinburgh was opened in 1871 and demolished after 1918. From the Photograph Albums Collection. DP137192. Image credit: RCAHMS

Portobello Pier in Edinburgh was opened in 1871 and demolished after 1918. From the Photograph Albums Collection. DP137192. Image credit: RCAHMS

Uneasy Balance, new publication edited by Professor Christopher Platt

Chris Platt, Head and Professor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture is the editor of a new book entitled Uneasy Balance, a memento to the design and construction of Glasgow School of Art’s new, recently named, Seona Reid Building, by Steven Holl Architects.

Published at the time of topping out, this slim, pocket-sized volume is a fitting tribute to the germination, growth and realisation of Holl’s intelligent architectural design. The book is illustrated with specially commissioned photographs as well as drawings and sketches. Some of these drawings are the loose, inky architectural sketches from the office of Steven Holl Architects. There are also some of the Mackintosh Building from Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections, such as the one featured below.
Section of Glasgow School of Art, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1910

Section of Glasgow School of Art, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1910

The book contains four essays and an illuminating interview with Steven Holl in which he imparts the concept behind his “thin skin/thick bones” design, reveals some of his working practices and discusses architecture as art form.

Books are priced at £15 and can be purchased from the Glasgow School of Art shop. GSA Library will also be cataloging a couple of copies to place on the shelves in September, once the current refurbishment project is complete. You can find out more about GSA’s campus redevelopment here.

Mostly reblogged from GSA Library’s excellent Architectural Resources blog

Staff outing to St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross

Last Saturday, a troupe of intrepid ramblers, otherwise known as GSA Library & Learning Resources team, embarked on a self-guided tour of the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross. We had absconded from Garnethill with one simple mission: to find the ruins of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s masterpiece, St Peter’s Seminary. And, of course, to discuss it over lunch! It’s fair to say that this had all the hallmarks of a Gillespie, Kidd & Coia pilgrimage being made in the footsteps of early Christian missionaries, Scots nobility and trainee priests as we soon discovered from our appointed tour-guide, Architecture Librarian David Buri!

We set off in the morning under a murky-looking sky and proceeded into the woods at Kilmahew Estate – a moving sea of cagoules and backpacks. Thankfully for us, the weather was on our side, and as we progressed further from the perimeter and through the rhododendrons, the only thing we had to fear was the odd crack of a golf-ball from Cardross Golf Course, in dangerously close proximity to the track! Stepping through the undergrowth, we tried to recreate in our minds the original grandeur of the the estate’s ornamental gardens, driveways and parkland. Two exceptionally tall redwood trees flanking the path at the original entrance were a reminder of the estate’s historic roots and the status it would have enjoyed, only decades ago.

At the top of the route we reached our destination: the dramatic ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, built in the 1960s and abandoned since 1980. The post-apocalyptic scene we encountered is something to behold: a derelict building, ravished by time, blemished by grafitti, yet still powerfully capable of inducing frissions down the spine. Perhaps it’s down to our current fetish for all things Brutalist, but this was similar to experiencing the sublime in nature – achieved through architecture!

The photos we’re used to seeing in the GKC Archive in GSA’s Archive and Collection Centre are black and white so we were unprepared for Kilmahew Estate’s vivid colours. Sienna-cobbled stonework, red tree-bark, green, lilac and pink shrubbery and neon grafitti have created a unique collage: something like a forgotten space-ship crash in medieval times or the set of a science-fiction film! At close range, it’s overwhelmingly apparent why the seminary is often given the accolade of being the best example of work by partners Andy MacMillan and Izi Metzstein and is revered by many as the most important piece of twentieth-century modernist architecture in post-war Britain. The contrasting curved and angular walls of the complex envelope the ruins of the once standing Kilmahew House which once stood as the structure’s fourth wall. The majestic design and the scale of the concrete build is incredible; as too is the clear level of disrepair. We were thrilled, surprised and dismayed all at once!

As one of the few post-war buildings to be granted A-listed status, there is something melancholic and aesthetically-alluring about the seminary’s abandonment, demise and unorthodox appropriation by grafitti artists. While its conservation seems to be something of an architectural frisbee, plans to conserve it as a community space were submitted by landscape architects erz in February of this year. To read more about the proposed rehabilitation of St Peter’s, make sure to check for updates on Glasgow Architecture’s website.

Reincarnation emerged as a recurrent theme as we followed the tour onwards. The entire Kilmahew Estate has had many incarnations – each new vision and design has been followed by decline and ruin. After the excitement of the seminary, we also discovered the ruins of nearby Kilmahew Castle, and explored the gardens where an ornamental pond, waterfall and rhododendron tunnel can be found. It was then onto a nearby farm-shop and tearoom for a well-deserved lunch and post-tour analysis! We even found time to stop at nearby Geilston Hall on the road back to Glasgow, a drill-house designed by a young Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1889.

The tour is free to download from The Royal Geographical Society’s website as part of the Discovering Britain project. You can download written and audio guides from the website. The booklet (available to download here: Kilmahew – walk booklet and in stock in GSA Library) includes the black and white images of St Peter’s Seminary from the GSA Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive. Check the ACC blog for related GKC posts.

 Reblogged from GSA Library’s Architectural Resources blog. 

RIBA Bedford Lemere & Co online exhibition

The latest online exhibition from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) provides a comprehensive platform for exploring the architectural photography of Bedford Lemere & Co.
‘Recording the New’ is a plotted history of the establishment, rise and reputation of the photography firm between 1870 and 1930, revealing images from the photography firm’s vast portfolio and snapshots of the public archive, held by English Heritage. Based on the exhibition of the same name held at the V&A in 2011, it is a glimpse into the ongoing project by English Heritage to conserve, catalogue and scan their archive of photographs and negatives- one of the largest relating to the photography firm. The aim is to make digital copies of all the images accessible online. 8,000 can already be searched through the English Heritage Archives, providing those impressed by the exhibition with a further avenue for research.
Formed towards the end of the nineteenth century by founders Bedford Lemere and son Harry, the London-based photography company documented changes to Britain as it teetered uncertainly on the brink of the twentieth century and then advanced into the new technological age. Architect clients and designers commissioned the firm to take photographs of new works from large-scale architectural works to domestic interiors and new urban developments. Today these photographs of now historic settings and features provide a visual record of our heritage. They are also key examples of the period’s growing interest in the medium of photography as a means of capturing pioneering change.
GSA Library hold two collections of photographs by Bedford Lemere; one taken of Glasgow City Chambers and another of interiors designed by influential designers including Morris & Co. and Grinling Gibbons. These can be consulted in the Mackintosh Library. The Archives & Collection Centre also keep photographs taken of the Art School in 1910. For an appointment to view either item, visit the Librarians’ Office on Level 1 of the Library, or see contact details for the School’s archive at this link.