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Scotland’s Modernist past

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Venice Biennale 2014: Scotland’s residency at the British Pavilion

As the British Pavilion opens its doors, Reiach and Hall is busy preparing for Scotland’s month-long residency at Venice in October. The Edinburgh-based practice beat five other Scottish teams to scoop the £50,000 budget for the residency from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland.

Reiach and Hall will present a study of Scottish Modernism in keeping with Rem Koolhaas’ overall theme. It has organised four teams – each comprising two architects/academics and two architecture students – who represent a different geographical area of Scotland: Edinburgh and the Borders; Glasgow and the West; the East Coast; and Perthshire, Highlands and Islands. The four teams will spend the summer researching the Modernist heritage of their respective areas before they each spend a week at the British Pavilion in October, where they will present their research.

‘We will be looking at a specific period of Scottish Modernism, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, which was a very productive period for architecture in Scotland,’ says Neil Gillespie, director at Reiach and Hall and project leader of the residency. ‘It would be good to take part in the global conversation and to throw light on aspects of Modernism we may overlook, including this particular period when Modernism had a more confident, optimistic voice.’ Gillespie highlights buildings such as St Bride’s Church in East Kilbride, St Peter’s Seminary by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia and Peter Womersley’s house in Selkirk for textile designer Bernat Klein as key buildings of the period, but says that each team will be free to interpret the brief as they choose.

The teams will research other pavilions in Venice and present their findings when they return home. ‘This way,’ says Gillespie, ‘we’re bringing something from Scotland to Venice and something from Venice to Scotland.’

The teams

Curators Neil Gillespie of Reiach and Hall Architects, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture – Robert Gordon University, assisted by Laura Kinnaird of Reiach and Hall Architects

Edinburgh and the Borders Jim Grimley of Reiach and Hall Architects and Chris Lowry of Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Glasgow and the West David Page of Page\Park Architects and Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, and Alan Hooper of the Mackintosh School of Architecture

The East Coast Sam Penn of Scott Sutherland School of Architecture – Robert Gordon University and Cameron McEwan of Dundee School of Architecture

Perthshire, Highlands and Islands Fergus Purdie, Fergus Purdie Architect and Dundee School of Architecture, and Rowan Mackinnon Pryde, Reiach and Hall Architects








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