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‘Last chance’ Cardross plan revealed

Avanti Architects and ERZ landscape architects have revealed these plans to save the crumbling ruin of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s 1966 St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, 40km from Glasgow

Described by the architects as the ‘last chance’ for the former theological school, the £15 million project will ‘partially restore and consolidate’ the Grade A-listed building, abandoned 33 years ago.

As part of the proposals to create an education and public arts centre within the 57-hectare woodland area, the seminary’s main sanctuary hall will become a wind and watertight events space.

The ruined glasshouses of a nearby 19th-century walled garden will be transformed into a visitor centre and paths through the landscape restored.

Earlier this year, not-for-profit arts charity NVA secured a two-year window to purchase the land and has applied to Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund for partial project funding.

Owner, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow began discussions with NVA in March after developer Urban Splash walked away from Gareth Hoskins’ high-profile designs for the site’s redevelopment.

Avanti director John Allan said the scheme was the ‘most significant and last real chance to turn [St Peter’s] around’.

He said: ‘Trying to approach the site as a commercial opportunity was wrong. This is the best and most realistic opportunity for the thing to move forward.’

He added: ‘Coming at it from an educational and social perspective is more grounded in the reality of the economy and planning situation. It’s also intellectually more ambitious.’

NVA project director Jon Clarke said the plans represented the ‘least amount of money needed to bring the building and landscape back into use’, saying a full restoration was ‘not intended and not useful’.

He said: ‘The trick is not to try and freeze it in time. The project is, in essence, looking at entropy. This is probably the first 20th-century building that might be consolidated in a semi-ruinous state.’

A detailed planning application for the project’s first phase is expected to be submitted to local planners next summer and the scheme could start on site in 2015.

 

St Peter’s seminary damage report by Avanti Architects director John Allan

The crumbling ruins of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia’s St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross

The crumbling ruins of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia’s St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross

Timber was used in a variety of applications through the original scheme. Where it was used structurally in exposed sections in the roofs of the sanctuary and the teaching block the timber was laminated Oregon pine. As a result of water penetration and/ or vandalism most of this timber is ruinous, or has been lost.

In other (non-structural) locations, for example the internal guardings to galleries and stairs, birch veneered ply boarding was mounted within pine framing. The main staircase treads were teak.  External screens were painted softwood. In other cases, for example the soffit cradles that run along the ground floor clerestory screen heads, the pine timber shell was covered with copper. Much of this fabric has also been lost, though fragments remain to provide templates for re-construction.

Most of the pre-cast panels are salvageable, but are at risk from their fixings which are extensively corroded. The metal hy-rib vault formers are also quite extensively corroded, though in many cases capable of consolidation by means of cathodic protection and sprayed lightweight concrete cover.

The brickwork is generally harled, but much of this has delaminated and will need to be stripped back completely before re-covering. Virtually all the glazing has been lost.

 

 

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