Sunday, September 28, 2008

Govanhill Baths, 1917

The Baths, designed by A.B. McDonald, were opened in 1917 and consisted of hot baths, 3 swimming pools and a 'steamie' (wash-house).

Public baths were built by the Glasgow Corporation to promote health and hygiene. Many people had no hot running water in their flats so used the laundry facilities until the 1990's and the bathing facilities up to 2000. Very few of these buildings now survive, and when it closed in 2001, Govanhill Baths was the only original, substantially unaltered public baths still in use.

A.B. McDonald was the city surveyor and designed the baths in Edwardian Baroque style. The most important architectural elements of the Baths are the pools with their arched reinforced concrete roof trusses which let in a large amount of light. The main pool, with it's cast iron railed gallery, gives the Baths their most distinctive feature. The original tiling still exists in several parts of the building.

In 1992 the Baths were listed at Category B. This requires the Baths to be marketed to a restoring purchaser or that a suitable alternative use should be found. Demolition of the building is only possible when all other options have been exhausted.

The building's condition is fair, although repair work is required. Historic Scotland recommends that 'an architecturally and historically important part of the city's history ... any proposed reuse of Govanhill Baths must take into account more than simply the preservation of the facade ... and preferably should be preserved as swimming baths'.

Text courtesy of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust

Saturday, September 27, 2008

St Peter's Seminary, Cardross Scotland

I had heard about this place.. A decaying shell of 20th century modernist architecture using concrete, wood, glass, breathtaking use of light and the beautiful natural surroundings of the grounds. Now, it's just a broken decaying shell of what it once was left at the mercy of vandals. But it is also a favourite spot for photographers in the Glasgow area.

St Peter's Seminary was designed by Andy Macmillan and Isi Metzstein, working for Gillespie Kidd and Coia, a Glasgow firm specialising in churches for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The two young architects were heavily influenced by Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto and converts to the modernist style. Construction commenced in 1961, however, while the building was still under construction the second Vatican council decreed that priests should not be trained in seclusion, but within the community. The seminary opened to the first trainee priests in 1966 and the building was fully completed in 1968. But because of the Vatican council degree, was only used for it's intended purpose until 1980.

The seminary comprises of 3 main buildings grouped around Kilmahew House (which is now completely gone thanks to a fire in 1995). To the east is the five-storey dormitory block, which employed a stepped cross section, where the upper dormitory floors defined the communal spaces of the refectory and the chapel below. At the south end of the block is a two-storey curved wall that formed the backdrop to the altar.

This by far is the space that creates the WOW factor when entering for the first time. It glows an eerie green from the surrounding forest outside and the moss coating the concrete inside. The space over the altar at one time was a 3 tiered glass roof, but now the glass is all destroyed and the altar is open to the sky above bathing the space in sunlight, or in most cases rain and cloud (this is Scotland after all). There is graffiti everywhere and the altar has been damaged thanks to someone taking a sledgehammer to it. Why? Because they could I suppose.

To the south of the dormitory block was located the classrooms & library. Now almost completely inaccessible due to the collapsed roof. To the north is a series of convent buildings.

Since its completion St Peter’s Seminary has been critically received and its status as an important example of modern architecture has grown over the years, described recently, by Tony Levinthal of the Scottish Civic Trust, as “…one of the top 10 post-World War II buildings in Scotland.” The building was listed category B in 1971 and was elevated to category A in 1992.

A small video made of the Seminary when it first opened and I recommend it's viewing after looking at the ruins to see what a wonderful space it once was.

When walking around the grounds on this grey overcast Sunday I was talking with a few photographers in my group about how much the building has been vandalised even in just a few weeks. There has been much talk about ways to use the building again and strip it back to its core, but it just seems to be just that - all talk. In the mean time this building continues to beaten, raped and pillaged by those that have no respect for what this place once was, a Holy Place.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

And the song is....

Thanks to Pops for helping out here. The tune is called "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie.

Here's the official video:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Random Thoughts While Sitting In The Pub

Sipping my pint of Guinness wondering why did the brewery decided to push Extra Cold? I can understand offering the option. Perhaps to encourage those that would normally not drink Guinness to try it Extra Cold. But why actively try to change current Guinness drinkers to 'come to the cold side'? It frustrates me when the pubs only serve Extra Cold. To me Guinness looses its flavour when served this way, its no longer Guinness, its just cold stout.

I'm liking the music that's currently being played in the background. Its a mix, probably something the child tending bar put together. The current tune is an acoustic singer/songwriter. My favorite, just the human voice and simple guitar. I fade in and out not really listening to the lyrics but enjoying the vibe. However, I do pick out something about Heaven and Hell being satisfied. Then the boy professing to follow you into the dark.

Men don't really say things like that. But the songs and movies out there want to continue the woman's fantasy that they do.

What a load of rubbish.

My sandwich was good though.

BTW pub was The Drawing Room, great place. Go there.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Seen in Sainsbury's

3 women, hovering around the chocolate bar display.
All with glazed over eyes.
Nervously looking around them every now and then to see who (if anyone) was watching them.

70%, 80%, how much cocoa content would be enough?
Single women, getting their fix.

Guys, don't bother with the pubs and night clubs.
Hang out a your local grocery store in the chocolate aisle.