The recent fire in Glasgow School of Art has brought Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work back to the world’s attention. Fortunately, reports of the buildings demise appear to have been exaggerated with the brave men and women of the Scottish Fire Service saving 90% of the building’s structure and 70% of it’s contents. The long process of repairing the damage has already begun.
One of Glasgow’s most famous son’s, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architecture and design are rightly famous the world over. Working in partnership with his wife Margaret MacDonald they produced some of Glasgow’s most spectacular buildings:
Queens Cross Church, The Royal Highland Fusiliers Regimental Museum and the former Glasgow Herald Offices ( also known as the Lighthouse) are all in or near the city centre. Sadly, despite his popularity in Scotland many of his grand designs went unfulfilled.
It was this perceived shortage of grand works that lead Glaswegian civil engineer, Graham Roxburgh to take one of Mackintosh’s most beautiful designs, House for an Art Lover (circa 1902) and bring it to life. Work began in 1986 and the house opened to the public in 1996. The property is a museum and arts venue. The property allows visitors to take in Mackintosh’s vision in its entirety and the beautiful house benefits from beautiful gardens too.
Hill House in Helensburgh also offers visitors the chance to see a complete CRM design in all it’s original glory. Seen by many as his finest domicile, Hill House is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. Designed for Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie, Mackintosh was given allowed to furnish several areas of the house to complete his vision.
Mackintosh could turn his hand to non residential design and his School at Scotland Street on the city’s south side was commissioned at the height of creative success. The school operates as museum now and can be visited free of charge 6 days a week. With a variety of classrooms and depicting the evolving teaching styles from Victorian period to the 1960s children find the museum a bit of an eye opener. Staff will take on the role of Victorian Teachers and show kids what education was like for their forebears (not fun). For Mackintosh historians the ‘Mackintosh Room’ contains the plans for the building and records the difficult marriage of design and local government that lead to the school’s completion in 1906.
The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Gallery is the architect’s own west end house reassembled inside another building after it’s demolition in the 1960s. The principal rooms of the house are represented and much of the furniture belonged to Mackintosh himself. The House is modelled as closely upon 78 Southpark Avenue as possible. The University also holds a large collection of Mackintosh’s sketch books and drawings.
These are just a few suggestions of what to look out for when in Glasgow. Please let us know of your favourite Mackintosh design or building. Did you take tea at the Willow Tea rooms?