Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Things I Like... > St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross.

St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross.

January 14, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

The story of St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, a ruined and forgotten concrete carcass, hidden away in a forest 40 miles west of Glasgow, is certainly worthy of a much longer post than I have time for now.

In the interim however, following an article I read in Dezeen last week, I am very pleased to write that the future of this beautiful wreck of a building has taken a sharp turn, as a full design team, including Avanti Architects and NORD have been appointed to work up proposals to refurbish/ redefine/ re-imagine what is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s great lost architectural masterpieces.

cardross-3(Googlemaps reference: 55.970256, -4.640620)

Designed by the respected Scottish architects Gillespie Kidd & Coia and constructed between 1960 and 1966, The Cardross Seminary is generally thought to be amongst the finest of post war modernist buildings, not only in Scotland, but across the UK. Le Corbusier famously never built anything in these islands, but if he had, it may well have looked like St Peter’s Seminary (and arguably would almost certainly have had a better chance of survival…)

Constructed of poured in-situ concrete, with local dark coloured pebbles cast into the surface and interiors resplendent in red cedar, the seminary was a skillful essay in space and light. The large central area had modernist echoes of a church nave, whilst the intimate study rooms located on the upper floors, looked down onto this central space, creating an open and rich dialogue between the ritual and the monastic, the celebratory and the private.

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St Peter refectory CQ67

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Sadly the life envisioned for this wondrous building was short lived. Due to a decline in the number of students wishing to dedicate theirs lives to the Catholic faith throughout the 1970’s and to almost continuous problems with maintenance and water ingress right from the outset, this bold and uncompromisingly modern building was occupied for less than 15 years.

In 1980 God vacated the premises and drug dependent citizens of Glasgow moved in. Before the 90’s had arrived however, the building had once again been abandoned, stripped of its finishes and left victim to time, neglect and vandalism, known only to urban explorers and representatives of the local Diocese.

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cardross-6The design team are looking to create an new arts and cultural center with a 600 seat auditorium, galleries and teaching spaces, there might even be a shop and a cafe…

Avanti and the team have certainly got their work cut out to have it all ready and complete by the target date of 2017, but I for one am certainly considering holding off a planned trip up to Glasgow to make sure that when we do go, not only will Mackintosh’s fully restored masterpiece the Glasgow School be remade and reopen for visitors, but so too will this long forgotten gem; open, full of life and vitality and ready for it’s third incarnation…

I’ve found these two videos on YouTube to finish off with…

The first is an extract from a documentary about the making of a 1972 film called “Space and Light” that aimed to capture a day in the life of the occupied seminary. The second was filmed by UrbExers using a drone based camera in 2012 and shows the utter devastation and destruction that had befallen this sad and sorry building in the intervening years, and this despite it being Category A listed by Historic Scotland in 1992…

There’s more here about the proposals if you’re interested…

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  1. January 17, 2015 at 11:01

    Ive long been interested in the this building being a fan of mid century architecture but hadnt seen these you tube movies – thank you for posting. So sad to see the destruction but hopefully there is a possiblity of a new use for the structure.

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