Hinterland was produced by NVA, creators of Speed of Light for the Olympics and Ghost Peloton for the Tour de France, as well as many remarkable environmental animations of natural settings around Scotland over the last 20 years.
NVA’s mission is to make powerful public art that reaffirms people’s connection to their built and natural heritage. Our practice uses creative learning and environmental innovation, involving audiences in physically redefining urban and rural settings, revealing how places shape and are shaped by people.
Permanent works, which often regenerate broken landscapes, include the resuscitation of St Peter’s Seminary as the world’s first intentional modernist ruin, to deliver a new model for rural arts and heritage development.
NVA is an acronym of ‘nacionale vita activa’, expressing the Ancient Greek ideal of a lively democracy, where actions and words shared among equals bring new thinking into the world.
St Peter’s Seminary: A Future Reclaimed
NVA has produced an ambitious scheme to reclaim the future of the world-renowned St Peter’s Seminary, an iconic modernist ruin in Argyll and Bute, and the surrounding woodland landscape of Kilmahew. An innovative approach to heritage conservation will combine the consolidation of the building in its current state of ruination with partial restoration and new design. The space will become a dramatic setting for public art, performance, learning and debate that speaks back to the world and finds relevance and use for bold and imaginative thinking.
Abandoned since the late 1980s, every structure within the site, from medieval to modern, has been reduced to ruins. Brutal, beautiful, romantic, ravaged, spiritual, shocking – the site provokes many reactions. Designed by Glasgow architects Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein of the renowned Gillespie, Kidd and Coia architectural practice for the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow, St Peter’s Seminary was completed and consecrated in 1966. Almost 50 years on from the day it opened we are witnessing the first positive steps towards a new purpose with hazardous materials and vault stabilisation now completed and Hinterland, the first event on site, attracting a phenomenal level of profile and support for the plans.
“This is truly its last chance, but what a great chance.”
– Angus Farquhar, NVA
In March 2016, we received news of £4.2 million in confirmed funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland towards our capital fundraising target of £6.2 million. After years of dreaming, scheming, battling, planning and persuading, we are finally able to take forward our vision for the future, with just £1 million left to raise. The building was so nearly lost, and this investment gives hope that Scotland and Europe will gain a new cultural centre worthy of the optimism and ambition that created St Peter’s Seminary.
NVA‘s vision accepts loss and ruination as part of the site history. The imaginative re-use of this great late modernist structure reflects the same social dynamism and ambition with which it was conceived: a spirit of working to improve things and imagining a better world. Rather than rubbing off the hard edges to create a polished version of the past, the intention is to preserve a raw sense of otherness, excitement and revelation.
The design team of Avanti Architects, NORD Architecture and ERZ Landscape Architects, are currently developing proposals that will include the consolidation of the main Seminary building as a ‘raw’ frame, with restoration of the chapel and sanctuary including the stunning ziggurat rooflight as an enclosed events space. The main pathways will be reclaimed, historic bridges repaired, and the Victorian walled garden will be brought back into productive public use as a hub for growing and learning activities. The collective actions that will bring Kilmahew / St Peter’s back to fruition will take many years, but every step has value in the site’s transformation from its current state of glorious abandonment.
To ensure public safety, the site is currently inaccessible with 24 hour security in operation. We are developing opportunities for the public to access St Peter’s Seminary during this transitional phase. Please subscribe to our mailing list to be kept up to date with planned future events and activities.
For further information, please visit the NVA website.