June 9, 2019 | Edinburgh and Glasgow Excursion© Anina Janich
Enlightened and Industrious. Spring Excursion to Edinburgh and Glasgow
After the Union of Crowns in 1603 and the Union of Parliaments in 1707, the building traditions of England and Scotland gradually combined to form an architectural language common to the whole of Britain. Nevertheless, Scotland's architecture continued to retain a certain independence, which not only reflected the after-effects of the pre-existing building traditions, the availability of other types of building material and different climatic and topographical conditions, but which, most notably in the cities of the Central Lowlands, was also due to an unusually fertile intellectual climate.
Following the motto 'Enlightened and Industrious', the 2019 Spring Excursion was therefore dedicated to the architecture of the 17th to early 20th centuries between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
During the study trip, the focus first lay on buildings that showed how the classical canon of forms gradually found its way into Scottish architecture, how these developments gave rise to the ideas of Palladianism, how the rational world view of the Enlightenment manifested itself in new urbanist initiatives and how, especially in Edinburgh, the self-image as an intellectual centre repeatedly led to a recourse to the architecture of ancient Greece.
In the second part of the excursion we were able to trace how in the course of the 19th century new materials like steel and glass gave rise to innovative architectural ideas, how architecture responded to the social problems associated with the industrial methods of production, and how the historicist study of Scotland's architectural history led to unusual solutions that would have been difficult to imagine elsewhere. Finally, we got to know the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who combined traditional Scottish architectural forms with influences from the continent and his own artistic ideas to create a completely unique variety of Art Nouveau.
In this way, the sightseeing programme not only allowed most of the Chair and its students their first encounter with an often overlooked but nevertheless integral part of European architectural history. The part of the study trip focusing on Charles Rennie Mackintosh's oeuvre also led to the decision to prepare a small paper on the reconstruction of Mackintosh's most important work, the Glasgow School of Art, which has since appeared in the journal Bauwelt.