Thursday, November 08, 2007

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.



The post war church posed an interesting problem for architects. On the one hand a commission to build a new church offers a perfect opportunity to create a landmark building; indeed the history of architecture is inextricably linked to the building of places of worship. On the other hand for many the church is a place of tradition and ritual and as such the inclination among a lot of both congregations and clergy was towards commissioning something that was recognisably church like. This paradox led to some dynamics such as the example below. A German post war church, which maintains all the traditional features of tower, bell and clock but is built in a self consciously sparse modern style.

Brought up as a Catholic my own parish church as a child was the English Martyrs in Kent, an interesting design, lacking any steeple and having sweeping sloping roofs but retaining the traditional stained glass window.

For truly dynamic modernist designs one has to look to the Catholic Church in Scotland who commissioned a series of daring original buildings from the architectural firm of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. Believing that the post war Catholic community north of the border would increase considerably after the war a number of new churches were commissioned as well as a seminary. All feature uncompromising modernist designs. Despite a decline in church attendance many of the buildings are still in use though some have been demolished and the seminary abandoned. An exhibition at the Lighthouse from now until February will display the pioneering work of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia.

5 comments:

SAM RENSEIW said...

yes!

what an absolutely marvellous ( and quite relevant) post topic. the work of G,K&C is indeed outstanding!

i had the chance to visit firsthand, both st.brides (east kilbride) - functioning, albeit in need of repairs- but still an absolute architectural marvel; and of course the ruins of st.peter's (cartdoss) - one of my most potent and poetic architectural experiences...

i also had the honour and pleasure of having some fine conversations with both andy macmillan and isi metzstein (the actual designers behind the best G.K&C works) when in glasgow for crits at the Mac, during the late 90's and early '00; They both are probably the most well oriented and kind architects i know. conscientious of their worth and architectural stand-points, yet both with the very rare gift of fine, genuine humanistic, generous outlook(s) on almost any topic... and with such a fine, humble decency, so unlike the boasting of "brand" architects

thanks for the post!

SAM RENSEIW said...

here is a fine link from the scotsman regarding st.peter's cardoss.

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/s2.cfm?id=439212003

ps said...

Thansk Sam. I assumed you woudl know all about the work of Andy Macmillan and Isi Metzstein but didn't realise you had met them. From the videos on the Lighthouse site they do come across as two of the most straightforward architects one might meet. Good to have a book out to accompany the exhibition; maybe now more of the works will be listed before they are pulled down....

SAM RENSEIW said...

the video(s) you have seen at the lighthouse are probably made by saul metzstein, isi's son. a great film maker ( with a dogme film at his credit)
more here: >

http://bluemagtest.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/double-acts/#more-108

(i have not yet seen the videos yet , but will order them straight away)

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