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Place Standard & St. Peter’s Seminary

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In August 2017 PAS was commissioned by NVA, an organisation known for “dynamic and unusual interventions in extraordinary landscapes”, to design and deliver a workshop to hear the views of local people about the wider area around St. Peter’s Seminary.

The seminary is considered to be one of the most important examples of modernism in Scotland – it is being preserved as a “modern ruin” and re-developed as a cultural centre. The aim of this project was to gather views from three intergenerational community forum groups about a delineated study area roughly marked out by the settlements of Cardross, Helensburgh, Alexandria, Dumbarton and Clydebank.

The workshop utilised the Place Standard (a tool developed by Architecture and Design Scotland, NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government) to provide a thematic framework for structured conversations about places. Both physical elements and social aspects are included, allowing users to think about the environment and interactions they encounter and influence.

It prompts users to identify and discuss both the positive and negative aspects of a place, and rate them on a “compass diagram”. PAS also used a Patrick Geddes-inspired “ Valley Section” approach alongside a standard OS map to encourage participants to think about how St Peter’s Seminary relates to its local area.

The participants were split into three groups to offer varied perspectives in terms of age and place of residence. They had a chance to express and discuss their views both in general terms and with a focus on St Peter’s Seminary and its current and future relationship with the wider area, and make suggestions to NVA.

The workshop yielded a number of key themes. Comments about most of the key towns were a mix of positives and negatives, with some areas coming out overall as more pleasant places to live and interact. The general discussion, more focussed on the seminary building itself, produced comments that were positive, and it is evident from the range of ideas given that there is enthusiasm amongst the local community about the building’s re-use.

The discussions also revealed significant differences between the experiences of older and younger participants, with each demographic often presenting differing views on the place and places around them, and a strong enthusiasm for keeping young people involved in the re-development of the site.

The results and analysis of this exercise will help to inform NVA on the ongoing re-development of St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. PAS has also worked with the Scottish Government to develop a Place Standard app.

If you would like to know more about this project or discuss commissioning PAS to deliver a similar event please contact David Wood david@pas org.uk or 0131 659 9774.

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