CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH
While he is possibly Scotland’s most famous architect and at one point the United Kingdom’s main representative of Art Nouveau, Mackintosh did not design as many buildings as some of his peers. Take a look at some of his historic works. You can also follow our walking tour.
CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH STATUE
The statue is believed to be the first ever one depicting Charles Rennie Mackintosh, architect and son of Glasgow. He is envisioned sitting on one of his high-backed chairs found in his Willow Tearooms.
Exhibition Centre station
wHERE IS IT?
In the Finnieston district, at the corner of Argyle Street and Finnieston Street.
The statue was unveiled in 2018 by then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, on the 90th anniversary of Mackintosh’s death. The statue was commissioned by the Sanctuary Group and placed on a 2.2 metre plinth their new £60 million estate that saw new and affordable homes created in Anderston.
The statue was designed and sculpted by Andy Scott, whose other works can be seen dotted around the city. He created a clay prototype of the statue before casting it in bronze. The finished statue measures 2.8 metres in height and comes in at a weight of just under three tons.
GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART
The current home of the Glasgow School of Art, with the main building on Renfrew Street designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is in fact the third location of the school.
wHERE IS IT?
Halfway along Renfrew Street, one up the hill from Sauchiehall Street, a short walk from the GFT.
Originally founded on Ingram Street in 1845 under the title of Glasgow Government School of Design, it then moved to the then-recently built McLennan Galleries 25 years later. Just over a quarter of a century later after that, work began on the Renfrew Street building. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who was handpicked by the school’s new director Francis Newbery, the first half was finished in 1899, with the second half finished over a decade later.
The school is separated into three paths of study - Architecture, Design and Fine Arts - and has provided an education and platform for some of the world’s brightest artists and creative souls, including three Turner Prize winners and a third of all nominees in the award’s illustrious history. Notable graduates include actor and director Peter Capaldi, painter Stephen Conroy, Travis members Fran Healy and Dougie Payne, and playwright and poet Liz Lochhead.
Tragedy struck the school not once but twice. In 2014, a fire broke out in the main Mackintosh building. Glasgow firefighters were able to save around three-quarters of the content and believed that 90% of the structure was still intact. However, the library section of the building was lost.
In 2016, Kier Construction was handed the task of restoring the fire-damaged building, working hand-in-hand with Page\Park Architects. Unfortunately, while restoration works were underway, a second fire occurred. Not only did it rip through the Glasgow School of Art, but it also gutted the O2 ABC venue behind it, with the latter building having to be torn down. The cause of the second fire could not be determined.
It is not all doom and gloom though. At the start of 2023, preparations to restore Mackintosh’s building had been completed, with the Glasgow School of Art determined to breathe new life into its walls with a faithful reinstatement of the original building.
In addition, the campus of the Glasgow School of Art was expanded with the Reid Building, which is Phase One of a three-part plan for the school. Sitting across from the Mackintosh building, the final design was settled on after a competition was launched to find a design for the new building in 2009. It was won by New York firm Steven Holt Architects in partnership with Glasgow-based JM Architects. The building was completed in 2014 by Arup and named after the then-director of the Glasgow School of Art, Dame Seona Reid.
house for an art lover
House for an Art Lover was designed by Mackintosh for entry into a German architectural competition run by the publication Zeitschrift für Innendekoration in 1901.
St. Enoch / Central station
wHERE IS IT?
In the centre of Bellahouston Park near Ibrox Stadium and underground station.
Despite the turn of the century design, it was not until the mid-1980s that the original plans were brought to life. It was Glaswegian civil engineer Graham Roxburgh who proposed taking Mackintosh’s original designs and bringing them to life in Bellahouston Park. Construction commenced in 1989, using the materials and techniques that Mackintosh himself would have employed, and was partially completed in 1990, before the economic recession took its tool and halted progress. It remained unfinished until 1994 when the interiors were finished and landscaping began. The House for an Art Lover was finally opened to the public in 1996.
The competition by Zeitschrift für Innendekoration was seeking ‘a Grand Residence for an Art Lover,’ looking for originality in its design. The entry requirements stated that ‘it is permissible and even desirable that an Architect and a Decorative Artist of modern tastes develop and submit the design jointly.’ Luckily for Mackintosh, he was married to an artist, Margaret MacDonald, whom he worked with on this and many of his other projects, most famously the Willow Tea Rooms.
However, Mackintosh’s entry was at first disqualified after he failed to submit all the material, but this was overturned when he submitted additional interior perspectives. He eventually garnered a prize for ‘their pronounced personal quality, their novel and austere form and the uniform configuration of interior and exterior.’
In the modern day, the grounds also show a number of works of art, including ‘Foot and Arch’ by Indian sculptor Ganesh Gohain, and the colourful ‘Jelly Moulds’ by firm One Foot Taller, which were part of a competition to redesign the common park bench.