With no casualties, last week's fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh's canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the Glasgow School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession.
However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural history.
After the tragic fire that tore through Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art last week, thoughts have now turned to the future of the building and the process of restoration. It seems that many people in the profession are in favour of a faithful restoration: John McAslan, who has previously worked on restoring one of Mackintosh's buildings in Northampton, saying that "it is not the time and place to interpret Mackintosh", and former GSA student and ex-director of FATSam Jacob commenting that the building "hadn't been turned into a museum piece" and therefore "a faithful restoration is exactly the right thing to do."
Though there has been one dissenting voice from George Cairns, a professor at Melbourne's RMIT who completed his PhD thesis on the building in 1992 and believes that a faithful restoration is impossible. In any case, this is what the Glasgow School of Art has resolved to do, and they have received a number of offers of help. Read on after the break to find out what's being done, and what you can do to help, after the break.
A statement from The Glasgow School of Art's Muriel Gray paints a somber picture of the aftermath of yesterday's fire: "Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated."
The fire, which broke out on Friday, May 23 at around 12:30pm, caused an outpouring of grief on social media. Though many speculated as to the fate of the library, the archives, and the building's structural integrity, the report brings confirmation that the archives are "safe."
Gray added, "As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible."
UPDATE: The Glasgow School of Art Media Centre reports "With the incident under control indications are the firefighters' efforts have ensured more than 90 per cent of the structure is viable and protected up to 70 per cent of the contents - including many students' work."
A serious fire has broken out at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 1909 masterpiece. The extent of the damage is unclear at the moment, but BBC News is reporting that the fire is believed to have started in the basement, and has spread to the upper floors, where it is breaking windows and smoke is billowing from the building. Images, reactions and updates from twitter after the break.
Next Month, the Mackintosh School of Architecture (The Glasgow School of Art) will host its first International Symposium for Social and Humanitarian Architecture, ‘Clean Conscience Dirty Hands’, in the new Reid Building by Steven Holl Architects. The symposium focuses on the limited resources intrinsic to the provision of social and humanitarian architecture and the impact of such scarcity on the ability of organisations to ‘harness’ the learning from each built project through documentation, discussion and dissemination. As such, it seeks to provide both a locus and a forum for like-minded organisations engaged in social and humanitarian building projects, in order to capture and disseminate good practice in both a UK-based and overseas context.
Plans for the new Glasgow School of Art building, designed by Steven Holl Architects in association with JM Architects, received approval from the Glasgow City Council’s planning committee this week. Site preparations are scheduled for this summer, and work on the new building will immediately follow with construction scheduled to take around two years. The five story building will reside directly opposite of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterful Glasgow School of Art building.
Debate continues on the design for the Glasgow School of Art by Steven Holl Architects in collaboration with Glasgow based JM Architects. Last month William J.R. Curtis shared his critical thoughts on the new extension, referencing the diagrams by Holl as ‘cartoonlike’, the surface choices of glass ‘monotonous’, and the external volumes as ‘clumsy’. As we all know architecture is subjective and debate should be welcomed, hopefully resulting in a smart discussion focused on providing the best design solutions for a project. A critique of an extension to a building with such importance as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, a design that masterfully manipulates light into spaces and skillfully the nature of different materials, is expected. However, this review almost seemed personal and a bit uninformed. Curtis, during his critical rant even asks “where was the client during these intervening months?” referring to the initial announcement and presentation of Holl’s winning design and then later released drawings.
Continuing, “The unsatisfactory state of Holl’s proposal perhaps reveals what may happen when a star architect drops in from another planet and blinds a building committee with the “smoke and mirrors” of popularized phenomenology. Some good old Scottish common sense would have been in order to insist on greater rigor and a more appropriate response to the context.”
Holl took time to respond to Curtis’ article stating, “We welcome criticism as long as it’s based on an accurate understanding of our design. Unfortunately William Curtis’ article is not knowledgeable about our design,” and Holl also shares specifics about both the design material choices for the new extension (his full response following the break).