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St Peter's, Cardross: Birth, Death and Renewal

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Half a century after St Peter’s Seminary was completed, the first full history of this Scottish Modernist classic has been published

St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross was finished in 1966 but only operated in its intended role for 14 years. In the 36 years since its closure, it has fallen into disrepair, yet is generally regarded as one of the most important examples of Modernist architecture in Scotland. Now on the occasion of its half-century, Historic Environment Scotland has published a volume telling its history.

The building, designed by Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan for Glasgow firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia as a teaching college for priests, closed in 1980. After its closure there were difficulties with upkeep and, although it was briefly repurposed as a drug rehabilitation centre, it quickly fell victim to vandals and dilapidation. A-listed since 1992, it has divided visitors, architectural students and academics, but is generally held as a valuable example of Modernist heritage. 

St Peter’s, Cardross: Birth, Death and Renewal features hitherto unpublished historical and present-day images along with original plans. Watters has been writing about St Peter’s since the mid-1990s, and in this new volume she covers the building’s initial existence as a Catholic seminary to its revival in 2016 as the stage for NVA’s award-winning Scottish Festival of Architecture Hinterland event, and its proposed future as a national platform for further public art, debate and knowledge exchange. 

‘This book traces the way in which religious and architectural change significantly impacted and shaped the story of St Peter’s,’ she says. ‘But it also looks at how its demise triggered a transformation in its legacy. 

‘The publication of this book is especially timely. This year has demonstrated the building’s future potential as a leading arts centre, marks its 50th anniversary, and falls within Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.’

St Peter’s, Cardross: Birth, Death and Renewal is written by Diane Watters, photo essay by Angus Farquhar. Published by Historic Environment Scotland in partnership with NVA and the Glasgow School of Art. £30. Special offer: £10 off until December if purchased from the SCRAN online shop

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