Endangered St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross awarded lottery funding


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.

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. 

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia church to be revamped as Commonwealth Games venue

GKC/CCK/2/1/1 St Martin's Church, Castlemilk, Glasgow, 1961

GKC/CCK/2/1/1 St Martin’s Church, Castlemilk, Glasgow, 1961

A £500,000 grant has been awarded to help transform a former church in Glasgow into a mountain biking centre ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Historic Scotland has given the cash to Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, which is leading the revamp of St Martin’s Church in Castlemilk.

The church, built in 1961, is next to Cathkin Braes Country Park, which will host the games’ mountain bike events. The church is one of 10 projects to share £2.6m from Historic Scotland. The building repair grants scheme helps the owners of structures of special architectural or historic interest to meet the cost of repairs. In return, they must maintain the building and allow some access to visitors. The St Martin’s project at Cathkin Braes is part of wider moves to ensure a lasting legacy for local communities from the games through improved facilities.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Historic buildings offer great opportunities for education as well as providing important landmarks in our towns and cities which are key to our identity, community and memories. St Martin’s Church in Glasgow will contribute to the lasting legacy for the city from the Commonwealth Games and bring numerous benefits to the community. This is an exciting and worthwhile project and I am delighted that it has been supported through the building repair grants.”

Reblogged from BBC News

The Church & Presbytery of St Martin’s, Castlemilk stands on an outcrop of rock on the north side of Ardencraig Rd with the grassy slopes and trees of Cathkin Braes forming a picturesque background. The Church seated 600 people and incorporated a Sanctuary, two side Altars, a Shrine to St Martin, a Baptistry, Choir Gallery, and Sacristies for Priests and boys. The Presbytery has accommodation for 3 priests. Both buildings are in grey facing brick and exposed concrete with copper roofs and Afrormosia windows & doors. The existing rock face and trees on the site were preserved to advantage & exploited with a series of terraces & staircases to give a dramatic approach.

Inside both the Church and the Presbytery, extensive use was made of natural materials to provide a rich architectural effect, and at the same time to afford low maintenance costs over the years. The Church roof is a combination of parabolic timber vaults, and painted plastered ceilings and incorporates natural lighting from hidden clerestories. The Pulpit and Sedillia wall were built of the same brick and enclose the marble Sanctuary floor on which is set the cantilevered free-stone Altar.

For more information on GSA’s Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive, see our website or our previous blog posts about the firm.

Brutally honest: Scottish Brutalism website from University of Strathclyde

The threat of demolition looming large over increasing numbers of Brutalist buildings has inadvertently thrust the style back into the public conscience. There was even a feature on The One Show last night… Down the road at University of Strathclyde, planners are still refusing to rule out demolition of its famous architecture building while in England, Preston Council’s bid to block Preston Bus Station being granted listed heritage status rumbles on.

Brutalist architecture has courted controversy since its inception in 1950s Britain. Simultaneously held up as an affordable solution for public buildings and cheap housing and as an urban decay problem, the buildings have, over the decades, weathered the critics little better than the elements. As more beleaguered buildings are condemned to demolition, efforts are being stepped up to conserve the architecture style’s heritage.

Enter research student Ross Brown who has launched the website scotbrut.co.uk to accompany the Scottish Brutalism project at the University of Strathclyde. The site is modestly being billed as a work in progress, downplaying the extremely useful and well-researched content on offer. The aim is to illustrate the quality and variety of the architecture style around Glasgow and the west region of Scotland through the continuous mapping, documenting and archiving of prime examples. There are a number of high-quality images of the Strathclyde campus and the Charing Cross area, as well as an article by Brown on Glasgow School of Art’s former Newbery Tower. Our top tip would be to check the links to other sites, which lists Robert Proctor and Ambrose Gillick’s project-blog on Roman Catholic Architecture in Britain, and the illustrated online database of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia images. The fact that many of these sites have direct relevance to the Brutalist style, is in itself, evidence of growing popular interest.

To be alerted to new posts from the scotbrut.co.uk website, follow @scotbrut on Twitter, or join the mailing list.

This post was reblogged from the excellent GSA Library Architectural Resources blog

Archives and Collections user case studies

CAD drawing of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's St Bride's Church, East Kilbride, by Ambrose Gillick

CAD drawing of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s St Bride’s Church, East Kilbride, by Ambrose Gillick

We’ve recently added some case studies to our website about how various types of researchers have used Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections Centre.

East-west elevation of the Mackintosh Building, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1897

East-west elevation of the Mackintosh Building, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1897

So far these include information about how, for example, Ambrose Gillick, an architectural researcher, has used the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive in his work on the project Roman Catholic Church Architecture in Britain 1955-1975, and about how designer Gabriella DiTano of Risotto Studio (who we’ve blogged about previously) used our photograph collection as the basis for a commissioned piece of work using her celebrated risograph print technique.

Gabriella Marcella DiTano

Gabriella Marcella DiTano

There’s also some information about how architectural historian Joseph Sharples has been using the institutional archives in his work on the Mackintosh Architecture: Context, Making and Meaning project, and some feedback from Phil Palmer, a researcher with a personal interest in the artist Maurice Greiffenhagen, who was a tutor at the Glasgow School of Art at the beginning of the 20th century.

GSA_NMC014 Washerwomen, by Maurice Greiffenhagen

GSA_NMC014 Washerwomen, by Maurice Greiffenhagen

Visit the Case Studies section of our website for more information, we plan to add more examples very soon.

Contact us if you would like to use our archives and collections for your own research, be it family history, academic, educational, commercial or for creative practice.

New Walking Tour: Kilmahew estate featuring St Peter’s Seminary

GKC_CC_2_1_17 WBThe Royal Geographical Society has just published a brand new walk (see the Kilmahew walk eflyer) as part of the Discovering Britain project. Hidden in the woods of Kilmahew Glen is an abandoned country estate with the ruined remains of habitation from the medieval to the modern period. Kilmahew has had many incarnations, each new vision and design has been followed by decline and ruin. Amidst a landscape of woods and rhododendrons are stone, brick, iron and concrete features that offer a tantalising glimpse of the buildings and structures that once stood here.

The walk features the ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s architectural gem. Built in the 1960s, the site has been abandoned since 1980. On the walk you can find out about how an arts organisation is planning to revitalise the site.

You can download written and audio guides from the website. The booklet (available to download here: Kilmahew – walk booklet) includes some nice images of St Peter’s Seminary from our Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive.

GKC_CC_2_1_14 WBGKC_CC_2_1_3 WB

For more information about the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive at Glasgow School of Art, see here. See also our recent post about  BBC Radio 4 programme The Concrete and the Divine, which included an interview with GKC partner Andy MacMillan.


Andy MacMillan of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia on BBC Radio 4

There’s still a few days left to catch a BBC Radio 4 programme The Concrete and the Divine exploring the church architecture of Isi Metzstein and Andrew MacMillan, the innovative partners of renowned Glasgow firm Gillespie Kidd & Coia during the second part of the 20th century.

Andy MacMillan (left) and broadcaster Jonathan Glancey examining Gillespie, Kidd & Coia architectural drawings in our office

Andy MacMillan (left) and broadcaster Jonathan Glancey examining Gillespie, Kidd & Coia architectural drawings in our office

In the programme we hear architectural historian and broadcaster Jonathan Glancey interview Andy MacMillan at the sites of some of his most recognisable buildings, and also here in the Archives and Collections Centre at Glasgow School of Art, where the pair swilled whisky as they pored over some of the many architectural drawings and plans that feature in the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia Archive – at a safe distance from the material, of course.

St Peter's Seminary, Cardross

St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross

Isi Metzstein and Andrew MacMillan seized on the momentary experimentalism of the Catholic Church after World War II to revolutionise church design. This was a brave new world and the Catholic Church wanted their places of worship to meet the needs of a new era. In a culture never quite comfortable with the high modern influences of Europe and America, Metzstein and MacMillan drew on the ideas of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright with unparalleled freedom. While most of their churches are still in use, their masterpiece St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross, which stood out like a spaceship in the modest construction yards of British architecture, is a ghost space now, abandoned in 1980 just 14 years after completion.

As we mentioned in a previous post, a selection of material from the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive is currently on display alongside GSA Library holdings at the entrance to GSA Library.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here.

Click here for more information about the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia Archive.

Gillespie, Kidd and Coia Display in GSA Library

gkc displayJust to the left as you enter the library is a new display dedicated to celebrated architecture firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. The display features library materials alongside items from the recently catalogued and conserved Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive. Amongst the pieces which took our fancy are spectacles, rulers and drafting tools; a study of the 1970 Glasgow Summer School at which Jack Coia taught; and a humorous collection of misaddressed mail which the partners chose to keep for posterity and amusement.

An introduction to the history of the firm and captions relating to the materials on display provide more information. These can also be found, along with bibliographies of related sources, in the ‘Library Display Cabinets’ folder as part of the Archives and Collections course on the VLE.

Look out for more posts about our cabinet displays which we hope to fill with lots more interesting items over the coming months. Each display will aim to highlight the connections between library holdings and those in the Archives & Collections, and will cover a broad range of taught subject areas, and GSA alumni. Ask at the librarians’ office on Level 1 of the library or at the Archives & Collections Centre if you have any questions, and see the library’s Architectural Resources blog for further inspiration.