The Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building Restoration
The Glasgow School of Art
167 Renfrew St, Glasgow G3 6RQ
Internal Floor Area
The reconstruction and restoration of Mackintosh's seminal masterpiece
On 23rd May 2014, the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art suffered a devastating fire; the events of that day marked the start of a complex conservation project of international significance.
On the day after the fire Muriel Gray, Chair of the Board of Governors, stated to the media that, ‘we will re-build, and we will re-build well’. This ethos of design and construction quality are of paramount importance due to the cultural significance of the building in Scotland, and its architectural value as the seminal work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Despite having a long standing client relationship with the Glasgow School of Art for over 25 years, we were humbled to be entrusted with the reconstruction and restoration of the Mackintosh building. Our appointment as lead designer in 2015 was based on our innovative approach to the project as a whole; this included new methodologies for cataloguing archive material and ground-breaking use of BIM.
Although initially conceived as purely a reconstruction of fire damaged elements, it quickly became apparent that the project must look holistically at the entire building. As a result, Page\Park are not only overseeing the works to reconstruct the significant fire-damaged spaces (including the intricate timber Library, Hen-Run, and second floor studio spaces) but are also undertaking a major restoration of the building as a whole, including the complete re-servicing of the building to contemporary standards, extensive repairs to the external fabric, environmental performance upgrades, and delicate conservation works to the internal finishes. Where possible, the opportunity is also being taken to return elements of the building to the original design intent, including the replacement of a large number of windows to their original design.
The project is currently on-site, being delivered in close collaboration with our client team and Main Contractor, Kier Construction. The project as a whole is due to be unveiled in Summer 2019, however updates on the project often make the headlines, which can be accessed in the press section below.
Alongside the management of the project on site, our project team are hard at work compiling the ‘Conservation Atlas’ of the Mackintosh building, intended to be a comprehensive document collating all that we have learned, our approach, methodology, and implementation. This will be launched alongside the completion of the project in 2019.
An incredibly important part of the evidence base for the reconstruction was the post completion photographs taken by Bedford Lemere in 1910, documenting the building as completed in 1910. The original glass plate negatives are held in the collections of Historic Environment Scotland, and are of such quality that fine details and textures can be clearly seen. These photographs have been used as a basic point of reference throughout the project, not least for the reconstruction of the historic lighting scheme, for which they have been an invaluable resource.
A series of visualisations produced to assist in the re-imagining of the reconstructed interiors. Each image is taken from our highly detailed Building Information Model.
Sketching was used as a tool to survey and understand the building at its various scales – the material build up of the fabric and the junctions and connections between elements.
People Behind the Prototype
Natalia Burakowska joined Page\Park in 2013 from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland after studying the Preservation of Architectural Heritage. Natalia has been meticulously researching, measuring and drawing the library since our appointment in 2015. The prototype is the culmination of her hard work and rigorous conservation approach. The Library has been fully drawn and modelled by Natalia using BIM technology, meaning every element of the Library is modelled in meticulous detail. Shown here is just a snapshot of that hard work; extracts from construction drawings used to build the Library.
Andy Zahn is an architect and our in-house model maker at Page \ Park. He has been working closely with Natalia for over 2 years to get to grips with every detail of the original Library construction. Through a process of hand drawing and modelling, Andy’s detailed studies have complimented Natalia’s methodical approach. Shown here are some of the drawings and notes from Andy’s study of the carved pendants in the library, these were passed on to the joiners to begin the conversation about how to recreate the subtleties of the original library.
Angus Johnston is one of the talented craftsmen at Laurence McIntosh who were tasked with interpreting our drawings into reality. The joiners have been directly involved in discussions with Andy and Natalia throughout the making of the prototype, to make sure all of their research and testing was translated into reality.
Martins Cirulis is the carver at Laurence McIntosh who carved the intricate timber pendant for the prototype. Martins is originally from Latvia and showed a skill and craftsmanship in his work that was felt to convey the same humanity of the original carvings. It is important that the work displays a sense of confidence, and a unique hand in order to have the same human spirit as the original pendants.
“Page\Park Architects have ongoing relationships with key crafts specialists and artists in Scotland and wider afield, and presented exciting proposals for expanding the legacy of the restoration by working with a new generation of creative talent.”
Prof Tom Inns Director of Glasgow School of Art