Glenrothes Building: Fife New Town Architecture

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Glenrothes Buildings : Fife New Town Architecture

Fife New Town, eastern Scotland – Key Developments

19 Mar 2012

Glenrothes Building – St Paul’s Church

St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church
1956-57
Gillespie Kidd & Coia, Architects

Photos taken 18 Mar 2012:

St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes
photos © Adrian Welch

First major collaboration by Isi Metzstein & Andy MacMillan.

The church building is located just south of the town centre. Glenrothes is one of Scotland’s six new towns (designated a New Town in 1948) and the architecture tends towards a soft Modernism mediated by Scottish traditions in materials, form and details. The church is entered from the north, between the main building and a lower ancillary block (The Presbytery). Entry into the nave is from the west and the altar is therefore located at the east wall.

This east wall is expressed on the outside as a pure white form, with the cross atop. Sadly the minimal design has been damaged by ugly grilles, security alarms, drainpipes etc. To achieve minimal architecture (Pawson, Silvestrin, etc.) you need absolute control down to the smallest items. Failure to control this architectural range of scales results in a focus on these weak peripheral elements. However, it should be noted this west facade used to have a large window (now bricked up) centrally 0 its removal has significantly devalued the articulation of this building.

This church is not viewed by architectural critics as one of GK&C’s best works, but we would be interested to receive information on its design.

St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes St Paul's Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes
photos © Adrian Welch

Status: Listed Category A, 1987 ; category revised from B to A in 2009

Location: Warout Road, Glenrothes, Fife

altar cross and Madonna by Benno Schotzm Scotland’s leading sculptor of the period.

Informative film about St Paul’s Roman Catholic Church Glenrothes by Andy MacMillan of Gillespie Kidd & Coia:

Extracts from British Listed Buildings website:
“A seminal example of modern church architecture, and one of Scotland’s most significant post-war churches, the first to break with the traditional rectangular layout.”

St Paul’s opened on 30 June 1958 and uses a particularly innovative design which was achieved on the limited budget of around �20,000 for the church and presbytery. A projected circular plan church hall never built. The focus is on light. The booklet St Paul’s Church 50 Years quotes Isi Metzein of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia as follows, “The church at Glenrothes was the first church of the new generation and was a significant change in direction. The concept, or basic principle, is about light. We decided to place more emphasis on the grouping of people, near and around the altar. There is also much more emphasis on simple construction methods and manipulated light, not from side windows but mostly from top lighting of some sort. Generally the whole concept is very much simplified”.

Rogerson notes that there was a further interest in communal worship and “liturgical renewal of the Catholic Church” with the altar, bathed in light, placed against the east wall and the walls splayed to represent going out of the Gospel to the world. However, the altar was moved away from the wall in accordance with directive of New Vatican Council of mid 1970s.

Glenrothes church architects : GK&C

Glenrothes Architecture

Glenrothes architecture photos:

Glenrothes Bridge

Glenrothes Bridge Glenrothes Bridge Glenrothes Bridge
photos © Adrian Welch

Glenrothes Catholic Church

Glenrothes Catholic Church
photo © Adrian Welch

‘A Holiday in Glenrothes’ Exhibition

In a new photographic series celebrating Glenrothes, Canadian artist Sylvia Grace Borda produces a visual ode to this former Scottish new Town. Looking at the town’s garden city status and the location as a significant point for Modernist public art delivery in Scotland – the artist ventures into a place where no one without relatives or a personal connection to the place would likely vacation or visit.

Glenrothes Building

Glenrothes New Town : photographic exhibition

Comments on the Glenrothes buildings page welcome

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