Anxious Care and Unsightly Aids, a Conversation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Anxious Care and Unsightly Aids (ACUA) represents the application in practice of ideas developed in theory in The Secret Lives of Buildings. The project originated in an invitation from the internationally renowned arts organisation NVA to join Scotland’s contribution to the Venice architecture Biennale 2010.

This event involved a debate on the future of one of Scotland’s most controversial monuments: the ruins of St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross, once the masterpiece of Scotland’s modernist hero architects, Gillespie Kidd and Coia. ACUA was my contribution to the publication that resulted from this event, and the critical step towards my involvement with the site.

ACUA represents an innovative approach to the occupation of modernist monuments like St Peter’s. Rather than arguing for its restoration (for which there are many advocates) or its demolition (for which there are just as many) ACUA advocates partial occupation, preserving both its original intentions as a building, and its subsequent secret life (cf. the Secret Lives of Buildings) as a ruin.

ACUA has, since its publication, been subjected to the scrutiny of the AHRC (as part of a network grant application The Invisible College, granted Dec 2011), the Scottish government/HLF/Creative Scotland (as part of funding applications to implement the proposal), and academic peer review (an account of the project is to be published by Interior Educators UK in 2013).

The Invisible College, the research network initiated by ACUA has now held 3 workshops at St Peter’s contributions to which have ranged from Ian Gilzean (Scottish government) Tim Edensor, the cultural geographer, Tilman Latz, landscape architect and Andy Wightman the land rights activist. Through its engagement with the Scottish government as well as international participants, this project promises long term effects on not just St Peter’s, but also approaches to the ruins of the recent past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTo Have and To Hold
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future of a Contested Landscape
EditorsGerrie Van Noord
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh: Luath Press
Pages54-58, 98-109
Number of pages411
ISBN (Print)1-908373-10-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010
Eventtopography of memory - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Aug 201216 Aug 2012


Conferencetopography of memory
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • modernism, re-use, art, architecture


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  • Bare ruin'd choirs: St Peter's Kilmahew: A case study in working with ruins

    Hollis, E., 23 Oct 2014, Recycler l'Urbain: Pour une Écologie des Milieux Habités. D'Arienzo, R. & Younès, C. (eds.). Paris: Metis Presses, p. 439-456 18 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

  • No Longer and Not Yet

    Hollis, E., Jul 2013, Reinventing Architecture and Interiors : a socio-political view on building adaptation. Libri Publishing, p. 177-194 18 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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