Seafield House was visited last week by two renowned academics who are experts in architectural conservation, both of whom are interested in getting involved with the project to save Seafield House.
Cristina Gonzalez-Longo is a lecturer in Architectural Heritage Conservation and Community Identity at the University of Strathclyde and Dimitris Theodossopoulos is an expert in the structural aspects of historic architecture and a lecturer in architectural structures and conservation technology at the University of Edinburgh. Cristina starts a new masters course in conservation at the University of Strathclyde in autumn 2014. She has been a project and resident architect in high-profile design and conservation projects, such as the Grade A Listed Queensberry House, which is part of the new Scottish Parliament building. Cristina approached FoSH with the proposal of a PhD studentship or knowledge exchange project and we welcome her input and expertise.
Having seen Seafield House, Cristina & Dimitris have asked us to share their thoughts on Seafield House and its future:
“Seafield House deserves to be preserved and conserved as the grandest of the houses and summer villas that the new professional and merchant classes built in Ayr in late Victorian times, making the area popular as a summer retreat. This elegant Italianate villa represents the culmination of that period, both for its location (at the end of a row of stylish villas along the Old Racecourse Road) and as a legacy of its owner, Sir William Arrol, one of the major British civil engineering contractors. Unfortunately, a fire has devastated its interior, but there are still fine internal fittings to be put in storage as soon as possible to ensure their conservation. The current status as a shell allows for a variety of possible reuses – for example, residential or part of a wider school facility. Moreover, given that its grounds sit in a strategic position between the Old Racecourse and the seashore, its redevelopment can provide increased urban permeability and enhanced public access to the beach, compared to the fragmented access that characterises the seafront area almost until Wellington Square. Once linked, the site can offer a further recreational pole between Ayr Pavilion and the Belleisle Municipal Golf Course. For an effective and sustainable conservation to be achieved, the project should start with a masterplan of the area.”