Perth and Kinross Council is looking for a conservation architect for a £2 million conversion of the city’s disused Category B-listed St Paul’s Church
The practice chosen for the £150,000 contract will partially demolish and convert the decaying 1807 landmark which closed more than 30 years ago and is listed on Scotland’s Buildings at Risk Register.
The project will remove the octagonal building’s roof, restore its stonework and add new openings at ground level to create an open-air courtyard for performances, markets and other public recreational events. The church’s prominent spire will meanwhile be restored and potentially transformed into a digital camera obscura.
In its brief, the council says it has given ‘in-principle support and funding to progress a proposal to create an open external courtyard within an adapted form of the building for public recreational, occasional performance space and market use. This would both preserve and protect the main elements of the building and provide more space for these uses in the city.
‘A number of parties have already expressed interest in making use of such a space. Opportunities have also been identified for architectural and artistic lighting. The proposals would not necessarily preclude future full restoration and bringing new uses to the space that is created, proposed development in the vicinity, and day and night time animation may help stimulate further required investment to achieve this.’
The octagonal church was designed by Edinburgh-based architect John Paterson in 1807, occupying a prominent site on Perth’s High Street. It was the first church to be constructed in the city following the Reformation.
It was abandoned in 1986 and has survived decades of failed redevelopment bids, including plans for a bar, residential dwellings, a science centre, an archaeological heritage centre, a restaurant and a cultural centre, along with calls for its demolition.
Perth and Kinross Council purchased the site earlier this year after a dangerous buildings notice was served on the structure. Urgent repair works were last carried out 10 years ago and an initial programme of works to make the structure safe began in February.
A structural condition survey completed in March found the structure to have holes in the roof, a poor suspended ceiling, advanced masonry weathering, loose crenellations and cracked stone openings.
The latest project is part of Perth’s bid to be crowned UK city of culture 2021. Rivals competing for the title include Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Coventry, Hereford Warrington, Portsmouth, Wells, Swansea and St Davids.
In April, Mecanoo and Richard Murphy Architects were named among five teams competing for a £20 million overhaul of Perth’s long-disused Category B-listed city hall. Hoskins Architects, LDN and Austin-Smith:Lord complete the shortlist of firms in the RIAS-organised competition which is expected to conclude later this year.
Hoskins Architects won a separate competition for a £10 million regeneration of the Perth Museum and Art Gallery nearby in February. Once complete, the two buildings will both host exhibitions exploring the history of Perth.
A site visit of St Paul’s Church for interested bidders will be held on 23 May.
The deadline for applications is noon, 7 June.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
Perth and Kinross Council
2 High Street
Tel: +44 1738475000