Saturday, 19 April 2014

The place where brutalist modernism crawled up a hill to die.

I have long considered St Peters Seminary in Cardross the ultimate expression of UK modernism. Tragically it was redundant before it was even finished as the Catholic church changed it's policy to training priests in the community. Even more tragically it was allowed to fall into a vandalised ruin although there are now moves afoot to restore it.

The building was a work of genius by Izi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan and, although I have little enthusiasm for the Catholic church, they have been responsible for commissioning some remarkable modernist buildings. I suppose it is an example of the use of the power of architecture for their own ends. It is said that Cardross is where UK modernism crawled up a hill to die but even now, in it's totally vandalised state, it still has a huge power. It is perhaps typical of the UK's attitude to design that such a building was not valued and preserved in some form.

This project was challenging, difficult, brave and actually successful from a design viewpoint. Can you imaging the reaction of the "establishment" and they beat them. I have really wanted to see it for many years and can hardly believe I stumbled upon it almost by chance. I feel  lucky to have found it before it either disappears or is converted into something else. One of my life boxes ticked and it is why I am Modernist.


patrick anderson said...

Lovely images of a period of architecture unknown to most.

There's something very Eastern Block about this but maybe it's just my take on the photos.

londonman said...

Mmmm...I'm afraid that I don't share your views on this building.

More Maginot Line meets Jo Stalin, for my taste.