Architects head to Glasgow to celebrate city’s buildings

The main entrance to the Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

The main entrance to the Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

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Architectural historians from around the world will attend a birthday party for Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow this summer in recognition of his lasting international legacy.

The event will take place in the Botanic Gardens on June 11, the final event of a four day conference that is taking place outside of North America for the first time in 43 years.

Scotland Street school in the Tradeston area of Glasgow was designed by Mackintosh and opened in 1906. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL

Scotland Street school in the Tradeston area of Glasgow was designed by Mackintosh and opened in 1906. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL

The Society of Architectural Historians has chosen to hold its annual gathering in Glasgow to pay its respects to Mackintosh as well as to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alexander “Greek” Thomson, the city’s other pioneering Victorian architect.

The conference at the University of Strathclyde will be attended by around 600 historians, architects and museum professionals.

Delegates will be offered the chance to tour some of Glasgow’s architectural gems, including Mackintosh’s School of Art building, which is currently undergoing restoration work following a fire in 2014, and Holmwood House, the southside villa designed by Thomson.

While Mackintosh’s legacy is well-known and preserved in Glasgow, many of Thomson’s best works have either been demolished or left to rot.

Holmwood House in Cathcart was designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson and is now a museum. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL

Holmwood House in Cathcart was designed by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson and is now a museum. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL

His Egypitan Halls in Union Street have lain empty for 30 years, while the famous Caledonia Road church in the Gorbals has been roofless for decades.

READ MORE: What next for Glasgow’s landmark Egyptian Halls?

Stewart McDonald, MP for Glasgow South, recently urged chancellor Philip Hammond to invest in the conservation of Holmwood House, considered to be the architect’s finest domestic masterpiece.

The MP said: “Holmwood House is a real treasure but requires quite a bit of restoration work.

The Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art is currently being restored after it was damaged by fire in 2014. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

The Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art is currently being restored after it was damaged by fire in 2014. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

“At the moment Holmwood House attracts around 4,000 visitors a year, a very low figure in comparison to similar venues around Glasgow and west Scotland.

“The only thing holding back this valuable cultural asset is funding.

“There is no shortage of ambition to make Holmwood House the outstanding visitor attract that it should be.”

The letter comes after the Chancellor’s predecessor, George Osborne, committed £5m to the restoration of the Burrell Collection, with the funds raised by fines paid by banks following the Libor scandal.

Holmwood House was built in 1857-8 for James Couper, a paper merchant, with the rooms richly ornamented in wood, plaster and marble.

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