Glasgow & West Scotland

Hinterland: Architecture festival launches at St Peter's Seminary in Cardross

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Media captionAudiences are promised a "subtle composition of lighting, projection and choral music"

Scotland's Festival of Architecture is to be launched with a sound and light performance at one of the country's most famous modernist ruins.

St Peter's Seminary in Cardross will host the first of 10 shows to mark the start of the eight-month long festival.

The Hinterland event is being staged 50 years after the college for Catholic priests opened near Helensburgh.

Now an A-listed ruin, arts groups hope to make it a viable venue for music and theatre performances.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption St Peter's Seminary opened in 1966 and was deconsecrated in 1980
Image copyright Angus Farquhar/NVA
Image copyright NVA

For the past eight years, Glasgow-based arts organisation NVA has been raising money to make the remnants of St Peter's safe for performance art.

Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA, said: "The event (Hinterland) has sold out and we have audiences coming from across the UK and Europe.

"The subtle composition of lighting, projection and choral music beautifully echoes the site's history and will give audiences a strong impression of its creative potential.

"I'm very much looking forward to seeing how people respond to it over the next 10 days."

Image copyright Angus Farquhar/NVA
Image copyright Angus Farquhar/NVA

The Roman Catholic Seminary was designed by Scottish architectural firm Gillespie, Kidd and Coia for the Archdiocese of Glasgow and was consecrated in 1966.

The firm's Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein supplied the vision for the distinctive zig-zag design and concrete appearance with internal features such as vaulted ceilings and floating staircases.

Architectural recognition followed and some now consider the structure to be a modernist masterpiece.

Its working lifetime was short, however, and when the number of trainee priests fell, the seminary was deconsecrated in 1980.

Since then, the building has became degraded by fire, rain and vandalism, but it still regularly attracts visits from architecture students and aficionados from around the world.

Image copyright Angus Farquhar/NVA
Image copyright Colin Blane

Its importance was recognised in 1992 when the seminary was Category A listed by Historic Scotland.

The World Monuments Fund, which works to preserve endangered cultural landmarks, added St Peter's College to its register in June 2007.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the former seminary was the perfect place to launch Scotland's Festival of Architecture.

"St Peter's is a building of world significance which continues to inspire and I am very much looking forward to seeing it in a new light during Hinterland.

"I can't think of a better way to mark the year than by seeing one of Scotland's architectural gems brought to life in such a stunning and creative collaborative performance."

Image copyright Colin Blane

Run by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), the festival aims to be an international celebration of Scotland's design and creativity.

Neil Baxter, from RIAS, said the Hinterland programme would be an unforgettable experience.

"Bringing together an extraordinary, sculptural, modernist ruin, music and creative magic within a unique, historic woodland setting, Hinterland is a superb launch event for our year-long, Scotland-wide, Festival of Architecture.

"It also presents a vision of how Gillespie, Kidd and Coia's long-abandoned masterpiece might be reinvigorated to the benefit of the local community and wider Scotland.

"This sell-out is the first must-see highlight of this very special festival. It will endure long in the memory as a special moment."

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