You've probably seen this green-roofed building, up on the hill overlooking Aberdeen harbour. I had a vague feeling it was connected with the church, but didn't know any more.
The RAS ran a visit to the building today, so I went along to learn some more. We were given an introduction to it's history, and then a tour of the building.
it was built in 1931 and, apart from a couple of shrapnel scars in one of the walls, it managed to pass through the war almost unscathed. Surprisingly, it actually stayed open throughout the Japanese occupation, and even ordained priests during that time. Dr Dan Waters' notes about the building gave a couple of reasons: first the Italy - Japan 'Axis' relationship, and second that the Irish priests were from a neutral country.
If you zoom in on the satellite view above, you can see that the building is an L-shape, with an ashpalt car-park / soccer pitch in the centre. The long side of the building is the old part, that was finished in 1931. The short side is a new wing that was completed in 1967.
Here's the view from the car park, old section in front of us, new wing to the left:
The Father who showed us around knew a lot of the history behind the building. When it was built, it was one of 14 planned as regional seminaries across China. You can see the appearance is very Chinese in style - a deliberate choice. However in many places there was strong resistance to this, so although the plans called for a chinese appearance, the finished buildings often turned out more like traditional church buildings!
Also, the original plans showed a four-sided building with an open area in the centre. The building above was the rear edge of that rectangle. But of course around 1930, the global depression meant funds were very restricted, and there wasn't the money to build the other three sides.
Apparently, the seminary in Kaifeng on the mainland was built in a very similar style, and there all four sides of the square were completed. So, if you want to imagine how this building should have looked, pay a visit to its sister in Kaifeng!
The Holy Spirit Study Centre has more information about this building's history: A Brief History of the Regional Seminary for South China and Its Influence on the Catholic Church Today