The Scots College In Montpellier

Geddes’ aim in setting up the College des Ecossais was to start a movement that would eventually develop into the “Cite Universitaire” of the future — a series of local and international study centres attached to all the great universities of the world. Having purchased a small cottage and several acres of rough limestone heathland outside Montpellier, he gathered a team of labourers and set about extending this core into the rambling group of buildings which became the col1ege. The garden was particularly difficult in this terrain but its importance as an integral part of the teaching cannot be overstated. Geddes planned it in a series of descending segments, sloping down from the front of the building to the formal diagrammatic gardens at the bottom. Here the order of Olympian Gods was laid out in relation to the phases of natural life, “a sacred enclosure, with the gardener biologist as its ministering priest”. The Scots College attracted a substantial number of students in Geddes’ few remaining years, but never enough to make it viable and opinions vary as to the wisdom of the whole project. Lewis Mumford, his protégé and “disciple”, regarded it an evasion, an excuse for not completing the task too long postponed, of ordering his ideas into some final form.