Detail 1:1

/ Ross Murray / Arts & Culture

In the context of our remarkable project to restore the Glasgow School of Art, we were reminded during the bid, whilst undertaking a forensic examination of the reconstruction of a bay of the Library, about the wonderful reality of the 1:1 detail. Mackintosh understood that consummately. The opportunity to excavate that thinking is a reminder for us all of the significance of the relationship between making and touch – because detail is what you touch – at 1:1

We were reminded of two great quotes about detail, Mies Van der Rohes ‘ God is in the Details’ and amusingly Charles Eames’ ‘When two materials come together, brother, watch out’.

An office wide selection of detail favourites included an Alvar Aalto and Erno Goldfinger stair, shop fitting details from Milan, Ushida Findlay’s concrete pillow floorscape and explorations of surfaces by Johnathan Tucker.

Two figures however stood out in that discussion - the first captured in the work of Gaudi and his aspiration to manage the forces that shape the whole through the individual parts. And the second, in how Gunnar Asplund used the module to relate the large scale to the small, so that the large scale elevational module establishes a rhythm that becomes a seat or swells into a light.

In both, the 1:1 informs the 1:5 the 1:20 the 1:50 and indeed the 1:100 scale.

Paralleling these influences we explored some of our own thinking; at Dollar Academy where the reuse of historical gymnasium climbing equipment embedded the transformed gymnasium as a social space; at the Perth Geographical Society building the insertion of a contemporary library to hold a collection of gathered objects rooted the collection in its new home; at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery the recognition where detailed study of the historical cast iron fabric of the building informed the nature of the new insertions; at our Scottish Power building the external and internal façade modulation finding social expression in the form of an arcade at one scale and seat at the other; and the wrap of the gold facade finding an echo in the twirling leather handrail at the Theatre Royal.

Scottish Opera, Theatre Royal staircase