The Invisible College

In December 2013, NVA’s The Invisible College held an event titled “Next Steps In The Reinvention Of St. Peter’s Seminary And Kilmahew” at Summerhall in Edinburgh. Ed Hollis of the University of Edinburgh and member of The Invisible College team discusses the some of the issues that have been explored…

In December 2013, NVA’s The Invisible College held an event titled “Next Steps In The Reinvention Of St. Peter’s Seminary And Kilmahew” at Summerhall in Edinburgh. Hayden Lorimer of the University of Glasgow and member of The Invisible College team discusses the some of the research undertaken so far.

NVA’s the Invisible College: Next steps in the reinvention of St Peter’s Seminary and Kilmahew


Angus Farquhar shares NVA’s future plans for St Peter’s Seminary/Kilmahew.

NVA’s the Invisible College: Next steps in the reinvention of St Peter’s Seminary and Kilmahew


Angus Farquhar of NVA presents briefly the ideas of horizontal learning and multiple voices. Time to revive the inspiring, true purpose of education..

NVA’s the Invisible College: Next steps in the reinvention of St Peter’s Seminary and Kilmahew.


NVA’s Angus Farquhar shares his beliefs for the contribution of dissent, spirit & community towards the Invisible College.

Bright autumn colours from Japanese maple trees by the bank of the Kilmahew Burn, down below the old house. These will be from the Victorian phase of the estate. It looks like there was a path along the western side of the burn with several of these trees planted beside it.

Photos taken October 2013 by Michael Gallagher

The Invisible College comes to Edinburgh’s Summerhall

SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER, 6-9PM, FREE
Summerhall
Summerhall Place
Edinburgh EH9 1PL

NEXT STEPS IN THE REINVENTION OF ST. PETER’S SEMINARY & KILMAHEW

An evening of good food, open discussion and future thinking, hosted by NVA's The Invisible College and Summerhall.

The event will present two years of research investigations and activities undertaken by NVA and leading academics from Edinburgh College of Art and University of Glasgow in Kilmahew Estate, one of Scotland’s most evocative landscapes and significant modern architectural ruins, leading on to debate regarding the future of the site.

This event is now fully booked

If you would like to request a place on the waiting list please email boxoffice@summerhall.co.uk .

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Presented in partnership with:

Summerhall

A small sample of this year’s off site growing. 

"You have been warned"

A photo of the seminary gates with asbestos warning signs, May 2013.

(Source: Flickr / ianrobertson63)

Blog post about St. Peter's Seminary: The ruins that mock God and architecture →

Blog post about the seminary from April 2013.

In mid-June The Invisible College team were invited down to visit Sheringham Park as part of their new research twinning exercise. The group were guided through the park’s history, its present use and the plans for its future by Keith Zealand the head NT ranger with nearly 30 years experience of the site.

New research relationship for The Invisible College

A new collaborative project called Landscaped Estates of the 1800s: Designs on the Future will involve a temporary ‘twinning’ of a project based on Sheringham Park, Norfolk, with The Invisible College’s focus the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross, Scotland.

The University of Nottingham and The National Trust of England have been running a similar project to The Invisible College (partnership with NVA and Glasgow & Edinburgh Universities) that researches environmental change using Sheringham Park as its site. Both research teams have been independently researching the geography and history of estates created as designed landscapes during the 1800s.

At Sheringham, they have been collecting on-going estate histories of environmental change and the landscape’s changing scenography which has been shared in a public exhibition. At Kilmahew, a range of site-specific participatory events have enabled the local community and the academic team to connect environmental change in the past with projected plans for the near-future of the abandoned estate.

The two projects have come together to identify common and contrasting areas of the work already done at both sites. The University-led research teams will collaborate, critically reflect and compare their findings.

The Kilmahew and Sheringham estates have much in common. They are both relatively small, they raise issues of species management, control and curation, in relation to Rhododendrons for example. Both sites contain ‘ghost’ designs, memory traces, elements of absence and voided landscape and have vestiges of original parkland design which are hidden, exposed, or potentially recoverable.

There are also some crucial differences between the sites and projects, which will make comparisons interesting. Ironically, Sheringham was designed with an understanding that it would eventually be ruined, and yet has been well preserved; Kilmahew was never intended for ruination, but ruination has become its signature feature.

The cast is exhibiting works produced during a 2 week workshop conducted during the summer of 2012. It was the bridging across three disciplines- architecture, textiles and glass, all part of the recently merger of the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art. Inspired by the remains of St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, Scotland, this transpired as finding the spirit and potential in the seemingly overlooked, subsequently, creating an open playing field for experimentation, exchange and development; within and beyond the participant’s respective disciplines. Ultimately, stripping away the hierarchy of ‘the expert’ and ‘the novice’ within the collaborative triangle and what remained was something more concrete.

http://sites.ace.ed.ac.uk/fabricformedconcrete/the-cast-exhibition/

An epitaph for St Peter’s

Just before the building closed again, I left this little gravestone there. The result of an exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art of works in concrete, glass and textiles inspired by St Peter’s, it writes the story of the site on its stones:

The forest of Kilmahew, around twenty miles west of Glasgow, conceals an architectural cautionary tale. In the 1960’s, the landscape was radically transformed by a building. St Peter’s seminary was built to house around a hundred catholic novices. Its plan and section, the work of the architects Gillespie Kidd and Coia, were a rigorous statement of the modernist maxim that form follows function.

But within a decade, there were not enough priests to fill it; and St Peter’s became a form without a function. The building remains empty, and derelict. It is no longer what it used to be, and not yet what it can be.

The caution is simple: design a building programmatically, set it in concrete, and you’ll end up with a ruin.

As with all buildings, we must learn to accept that St Peter’s, Cardross is no longer the instrument it was designed to be nor yet a monument. Once the programme that generated them has disappeared, their form will never, to misquote Louis Sullivan, follow function. Buildings are iterative processes rather than products. They exist in time, and never have been, are not, and never will be complete. Architecture is an activity, not a thing, no less ephemeral than space or light, and always in the process of being revisited. The contents of this exhibition shows how what may be perceived as a hopeless heap of decaying concrete can give flight to the imagination.

Edward Hollis, Deputy Director of Research at Edinburgh College of Art.

all very Ozymandias, eh?