Our website uses cookies. See our cookies page for information about them and how you can remove or block them. Click here to opt in to our cookies

£4.2m funding to save St Peter’s Seminary

Published: 23 Mar 2016

Hinterland Visualisation. Photo: James Johnson courtesy of NVA  

Today the Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland announced £4.2m funding to breathe new life into the derelict St Peter’s Seminary transforming it, and the estate surrounding it, into a truly unique arts venue and heritage destination.

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded funding of £3,806,000 to NVA to carry out the project while Creative Scotland confirmed a National Lottery funding award of £400,000 towards the project. The Seminary is currently the centrepiece of a sell-out public art event, marking the launch of the Festival of Architecture and is a key highlight of the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design.

Regarded as one of Europe’s greatest Modernist buildings, St Peter’s opened as a training centre for young priests in 1966 - its ground-breaking design by Isi Metzstein and Andy McMillan of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. It closed its doors in 1980 and has lay abandoned since with the effects of the elements and vandalism contributing to its now ruinous state.

This major investment will see key elements of the building restored whilst others will be consolidated to allow the public safe access to large scale events and performance as well as to smaller community activities. The triple-height chapel will be partially restored and converted into a 600-capacity venue while the former sacristy and crypt will be a focal point for exhibitions.

The transformation will include the 104-acre rural estate surrounding the architectural masterpiece – an estate which includes the remains of the 15th century Kilmahew Castle. A path network based on the original 19th century designed landscape will be reinstated, historic bridges restored and the Victorian walled garden brought back into productive use, bringing the site back to life and encouraging new audiences to visit. It is expected that over 200 people will become involved as volunteers.

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “After 25 years of decline, this ground-breaking project has the potential to save an internationally significant building, exploiting its commanding presence to produce an exceptional arts venue. Its appeal will attract new audiences from near and far. Its transformed estate will become a natural haven for the local community to explore, enjoy and be proud of.

"We are delighted that, thanks to players of the National Lottery, we can help mark the launch of Scotland’s Festival of Architecture by funding St Peter’s Seminary.  Highly regarded across the world, it is a unique record of its time which is in very real danger of being lost.”

Philip Deverell, Director, Strategy at Creative Scotland said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the vision of NVA to bring this iconic and well-loved building back to life as an exciting and ambitious creative space for future generations to discover and enjoy. The recent success of the Hinterland festival held at St Peter’s highlighted how important the building is to both the people of Scotland and the international architectural community. It seems fitting that in this the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design that we have taken steps to secure the future of this hugely significant building.”

Angus Farquhar, Creative Director of NVA, said: “This is a historic moment in the life of St Peter’s Seminary.  We are now able to start work on its permanent transformation into an international cultural centre that will speak to the creative life of Europe. After the overwhelming response to Hinterland, our first major animation of the site and the new name for Kilmahew/St Peter’s, we have real hope that our vision for progressive, socially-focussed art will connect strongly with people and together we will forge a new place for public art and its significance in the world. We thank Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland for joining us in the vision and ambition for the site and investing in its future.”

Brian McLaren, Chair of NVA, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland have today awarded this very significant investment into the revitalisation of St Peter’s Seminary and Kilmahew Estate.  After eight years of vision and hard work by NVA, world class design input from the design team and incredible support from private donors, funders and members of the local community, this investment now helps to secure a new future for this extraordinary place.

"The plans for the site will create a truly unique place where audiences and visitors can experience culture, learning and celebration of the site’s remarkable heritage in genuinely new ways. We thank HLF for this invaluable support, and look forward to working with all of our partners to make these plans a reality.”       


Notes to Editors  

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.  www.hlf.org.uk. @heritagelottery

In 2013, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded NVA a Development grant of £565,000 to develop the St Peter’s Seminary project.

Creative Scotland
Creative Scotlandis the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com.  Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland.

The funding from Creative Scotland is in addition to an initial stage one capital funding award committed in 2013 of £100,000 to enable NVA to develop their proposal.

NVA’s mission is to make powerful public art that reaffirms people’s connection to built and natural heritage.

The company has produced many unusual and dynamic interventions in extraordinary landscapes over the last 20 years. Light, sound and collective movement have been incorporated into the mountains of Skye, city lighting festivals and international cultural events including the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and the Tour de France – Grand Départ in Yorkshire in 2014.

NVA has produced ambitious proposals to resuscitate St Peter’s seminary, a decaying modernist icon in the West of Scotland and the surrounding semi-ancient woodland. This £7million capital investment is a deeply exciting prospect for cultural and leisure audiences in Scotland, the UK and internationally. In November 2014, a design team comprising Avanti Architects, ERZ Landscape Architects and NORD Architecture (Brian McGinlay) was appointed to take the proposals forward. An innovative approach to heritage conservation combining partial restoration, consolidation and new design will restore the entire site as the most significant new cultural resource and large-scale arts venue of this century. www.nva.org.uk

Further information

For the Heritage Lottery Fund, please contact Shiona Mackay on tel: 07779 142890, Rebecca Lamb on 0207 591 6027 or Simon Oliver on tel: 0207 591 6032, simon.oliver@hlf.org.uk

For Creative Scotland, please contact Sophie Bambrough on tel: 0131 523 0015, mob: 07747606146, sophie.bambrough@creativescotland.com

For NVA, please contact Susie Gray on tel: 0131 202 6220 mobile: 07834 073 795, susie@thecornershoppr.com