In his first public statement since the June 16th fire, Glasgow School of Art director Tom Inns said today that the Mackintosh Building would be rebuilt. This commitment, while putting an end to weeks of speculation, is still no guarantee of the famed structure’s future.
As Inns explained to The Guardian, “The building is insured and we’re confident that we can rebuild the building based on that.” The renovations that were begun after the first fire that hit the building in 2014 and damaged around a third of the interior, were made possible by large-scale fundraising efforts from both the public and government bodies. However, it is unclear whether similar efforts will be necessary for future rebuilding efforts, with Inns maintaining that “at the moment, we’re not requesting support from either government [Scottish or UK].”
In the interview, Inns also emphasized that the construction team working on the previous renovation, Kier Construction, had an adequate fire safety strategy that had been “professionally checked” by the school. He was unable to offer any new insight, however, on the cause of the fire, saying that the ongoing investigation by the Scottish fire and rescue service would provide the answers many people are seeking.
Experts have begun dismantling damaged sections of the building to determine how much of the remaining structure is salvageable. While it is currently unclear how much can be saved, extensive digital modeling undertaken during initial restoration efforts has helped speed up this process. Many of the building’s fixtures, which were restored from fragments after the first fire, were also in storage at the time of the blaze this year.
Since the second fire, opinion has been divided on whether the Glasgow School of Art should be rebuilt at all given the extent of the damage suffered. In the interview with The Guardian, Inns and others at the school were insistent that in their view, rebuilding was the only choice. “The beauty of the Mack was that in its design it really considered the internal environment needed for the disciplines that were housed in it,” said Sally Stewart, the school’s head of architecture. “In terms of the light within the studios, how the studios were scaled, to tinker with any of that is really tricky.”
Others in the architectural community have suggested that a restoration similar to that carried out at the Neues Museum in Berlin might be more appropriate, where the remaining structure was incorporated into an otherwise modern renovation, showing the history of the building and the story of the damage it sustained. But ironically, among the strongest voices in favor of reconstruction has been David Chipperfield, the architect of the Neues Museum renovation, who told The Architects’ Journal “on Neues Museum, there was no budget before we had developed the approach according to a framework that involved international restoration experts. The approach comes first, the costs come as a consequence.”
News via The Guardian.