The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork, Famous Strathclyde building by Rennie Mackintosh architect

The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Design and Architecture in Scotland News

8 Jan 2019

The Glasgow School of Art – a masterwork everyone should hear about

The Glasgow School of Art is a landmark for European Culture. Charles Rennie Mackintosh built it, and it is considered his masterpiece. Mackintosh is famous in Glasgow; he is seen like Gaudi is seen in Barcelona. But, it is important to note that during his life, his works were not highly appreciated, and he died without his architectural skills being recognised.

The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork
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The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork Building

Glasgow is a town known for its architecture, and the Glasgow School of Art is a true example of European modernism from this perspective. Even if it was built over a century ago, the school is still considered one of the most imposing buildings in the city, because of its oversized windows and sandstone façade.

Nowadays, when constructing a new building people consider oversized windows a must, but in the past, they were a revolutionary theme, and very few buildings featured it. Oversized windows are a high trend in the architectural movements that came immediately after Mackintosh built the Glasgow School of Art. Many other architects adopted his concept, because they offer constructions a sturdy and elegant look.

The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork
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Mackintosh is celebrated today for being an architect who focused on interior details. He had a unique taste when it came to furniture, and he used spectacular watercolours to make the school one of his greatest works of art.

The art school was built in two stages, between 1897 and 1909, and in 2014. On 23 May 2014, a fire damaged the building, and it required extensive work to regain its previous look. The Glasgow fire department managed to minimise the fire, but the library was the room that suffered the most.

The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork
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Nowadays the Glasgow School of Art is considered one of the iconic buildings in the area, and not only. The head of the design department, Stuart Finnie states that “The proportion of glazing to sandstone alongside its decorative elements create an architecture which was highly contemporary. It was probably quite shocking at the time.”

The space was organised according to the way the light enters the rooms, the focus was on creating spaces that facilitate art creation, under natural light. The majority of windows are orientated towards the north; because they allow cooler light enter the room. Artists prefer cooler light, when they sculpture or paint, because it offers them a better view of their work.

The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork
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The School is considered an art factory

Both the teachers and students, consider this building inspiring to work in, because the rooms are created to enhance the activities that will be carried out here. Mackintosh designed the building to facilitate the process of art creation, and nowadays it is still used for its main purpose. It is considered his legacy, and everyone who is interested in studying his works, considers this one, one of the most important pieces.

The building was constructed with the purpose to expand the School of Art in 1899. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was one of the students of the School, and it is no surprise that he decided to use his skills, to help other people get the same education, he did. Because of a lack of funds, the school was built in multiple stages.

It took eight years, to raise funds to complete the construction process. During this period, Mackintosh re-designed the original plan. First, he planned to design an austere building, but as the years passed, he decided that it should have a more modern look. Therefore, he added some oversized windows and he created a dramatic design, perfect for an art school.

His later designed included the library that was panelled in tulipwood, and that featured a decorated balcony. The Glasgow School of Art is considered Mackintosh masterwork, and his building is considered an inspiration for the following architectural movements. When constructing it, he made sure that the building would stand the extreme weather of the region.

The exposed stonework was not used only for aesthetic purposes; it also has an insulation role. It keeps the building cool during the hot season, and it retains heat during the cold one. The school also features numerous signs, to help the students find their path to certain rooms easier. Signomatic states that it is quite effective for new students to have signs both inside and outside the building, because they guide them, and help them save time when they want to get in a particular place. The signs also offer them information about the building.

Because it offers multiple air filled space and a series of light, the school is the perfect space for enhancing people’s wellness.

The Glasgow School of Art Masterwork
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Art enthusiasts played a major role in restoring it after the fire

Because the fire damaged the building, the students had to move into another building to continue working on their education. The fact is that it is quite an impossible task to restore the school, because it is considered a piece of art itself.

Because it schooled some of the most talented artists of the world, it is considered a functional work of art, and art enthusiast worldwide stepped in, when help to restore it, was needed. Even nowadays, the building is under a major restoration project, because it is desired the original design to be brought back to life, or at least a large part of it.

Before the fire took place in May 2014, a new extension was added to the school. It is considered a controversial building, because it comes in contrast with the Mackintosh building. Steven Holl, an architect from New York, who decided that a bright and white building is perfect for an art school designed it.

The extension was built on an open plan, and it looks more like a busy café, than a school. Because the two buildings are so different, the students split into two groups. Some of them state that they prefer the Mackintosh building, because it is highly focused on the artist’s talent. This category of students considers that Holl was not sympathetic with the Mackintosh’ design.

Toshie’s” Glasgow School of Art has great historical and architectural significance for the area, and for the landscape of the city. It is an icon that serves as inspiration even nowadays.

Glasgow Architecture

Major Strathclyde Building Designs – selection:

Maggie’s Centre Gartnavel
Maggies Gartnavel
photo © Adrian Welch
Maggie’s Gartnavel Centre designed by OMA

Maggies Glasgow by Page & Park

Kelvingrove Gallery Building
Kelvingrove Gallery Glasgow museum
photo © Adrian Welch
Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Beatson Institute
Beatson Institute
photograph © Paul Zanre
Beatson Institute Glasgow

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