St. Peter’s Seminary is a disused Roman Catholic seminary near Cardross, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Designed by the firm of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, it has been described by the international architecture conservation organisationDOCOMOMO as a modern “building of world significance”. It is one of only 42 post-war buildings in Scotland to be listedat Category A, the highest level of protection for a building of “special architectural or historic interest”. It has been abandoned since the end of the 1980s, and is currently in a ruinous state. Despite a number of proposals for reuse or renovation of the building, its future remains insecure.
Determinedly modernist, brutalist and owing a huge debt to Le Corbusier, the building is often considered one of the most important modernist buildings in Scotland. “The architecture of Le Corbusier translated well into Scotland in the 1960s. Although the climate of the south of France and west of Scotland could hardly be more different, Corbu’s roughcast concrete style, could, in the right hands, be seen as a natural successor or complement to traditional Scottish tower houses with their rugged forms and tough materials”, wrote Jonathan Glancey.
In 1980 the building closed as a seminary, subsequently becoming a drug rehabilitation centre. However similar maintenance problems remained and it was finally vacated by the end of the 1980s. In 1995 a fire so badly damaged Kilmahew House that it had to be demolished. The building was Category A listed by Historic Scotland in 1992, and in October 2005 was named as Scotland’s greatest post-WWII building by the architecture magazine Prospect.[5
According to the architecture writer Frank Arneil Walker, “nothing prepares one for the sight of the new grown prematurely old.” Attempts to convert and reuse it, or even protect it from further damage, have come to nothing – hampered by the unique design of the building and its remote location.
In June 2007 it was announced that the building was to be included in the World Monuments Fund‘s ‘100 Most Endangered Sites’ list for 2008. Also in 2007, developerUrban Splash became involved. Although no firm proposals have been put forward, Urban Splash have continued to work with architect Gareth Hoskins, and in 2009 community arts group NVA were awarded a grant by the Scottish Arts Council to develop temporary and permanent artworks as part of the redevelopment of the building and surrounding woodlands.