August 23, 2019 | Publication: Bauwelt

  Detail of the cover of Bauwelt 17.2019 Copyright: © Bauverlag BV GmbH  

Like Phoenix from the Ashes? The Future of the Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh Building

After a first fire in May 2014, which, even though it affected the library wing and thus destroyed one of the most significant parts of the whole ensemble, nevertheless remained rather limited, the Mackintosh Building of the Glasgow School of Art was once again on fire in June 2018. While in the British media the fate of the building was widely discussed, in Germany the extensive damage to the Glasgow School of Art and the question of how to deal with its remains have hardly registered. Verena Hake and Tobias Glitsch therefore used their personal encounter with Charles Rennie Mackintosh's oeuvre during this year's Spring Excursion as an opportunity to summarize and critically evaluate the debates surrounding the reconstruction of the Mackintosh Building for a German-speaking audience and to publish their thoughts in issue 17.2019 of Bauwelt (DE).

The article traces how, after the first fire, the spontaneous impulse to have the building restored to its former state was reflected upon in a wide variety of discussion formats, how the decisions taken thus received a more thorough theoretical underpinning and how, on this basis, the responsible parties developed guidelines for further action which can rightfully been regarded as exemplary. The article then juxtaposes this approach with the reactions to the second fire, after which the school management continued to cling to a reconstruction of the building, but after which such a stance was increasingly questioned.

Not least in view of the building's significance as one of Mackintosh's masterpieces and as a symbol of identity of both the school and the city, the article in the end comes out in favour of a reconstruction. However, it emphasizes that – in keeping with the role of the Mackintosh Building as a carrier of immaterial layers of meaning, which was discussed above all after the first fire – an echo of the destruction must remain present in the restored building, "as a sign of how much earlier necessary protective measures should have been taken, but above all as an integral part of the building’s biography, as a call for its responsible preservation and as a starting point for creative interaction."

Full article: Wie Phoenix aus der Asche? (DE)



Dr.-Ing. Tobias Glitsch
Dipl.-Ing. Architektin Verena Hake