Dezeen Magazine

Glasgow School of Art by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

David Chipperfield joins calls for Glasgow School of Art to be rebuilt

Momentum is building behind the campaign to rebuild the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed art school as David Chipperfield gives his support.

Leading British architect Chipperfield has said he believes the Glasgow School of Art building, which was all-but-destroyed in a devastating fire last month, should be made a "monument of exceptional importance".

Chipperfield told the Architects Journal that the challenge, once an "acceptable" plan for rebuilding according to Mackintosh's original design had been agreed upon, would be financing the project.

"The issue is going to be money," he said.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society supports rebuilding

Current estimates put the price of rebuilding the Mackintosh building at £100 million.

This is around three times the price of a refurbishment project that was nearing completion when the fire broke out, following a fire that partially destroyed the building in 2014.

An extensive fire largely destroyed the Glasgow School of Art. Photo is by Peter Swanton

Director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Stuart Robertson welcomed the support of the British architect.

"I think it's common sense that the building should be put back together," he told Dezeen.

"The cost of building a new one is not going to be much different in reality if you were starting from scratch, but you've got all the plans for Mackintosh's building."

Debate over building's future 

The Glasgow School of Art, and its ornate timber library, is considered Mackintosh's most important work and is often described as his masterpiece.

A debate is currently raging over whether the building should be rebuilt at all. In a column for Dezeen architect and academic Alan Dunlop argued that to rebuild would be to create a "sad replica".

Critic and architectural theorist Mark Cousins countered that to simply demolish the wrecked building would be too great a loss to Scotland's cultural legacy.

Meanwhile Ray McKenzie, a professor at the school, wrote in ArtForum that the burnt-out ruin should be left as an "emotive" ruin.

Others have suggested that if it is rebuilt, it should be outside of Glasgow – a suggestion Robertson roundly rejects.

"There's been discussions about moving it to some other site but that's completely ridiculous," he said. "Mackintosh designed it for that locality, it shouldn't be anywhere else."

A petition has also been launched under the slogan #BringBackMack asking that the building be faithfully rebuild to the original plans. The petition has gathered around 4,500 signatures at the time of writing.

Bitter irony of latest fire

Scottish studio Page\Park were close to finishing £32 million of repair work on the building when it burned down, following a smaller fire at the site in 2014.

The south wall is already being dismantled as falling debris posed a threat to the public. Image is by Jeff J Mitchell.

A new sprinkler system was due to be installed, with large water pumps arriving at the construction site in parts on the day before the fire.

Parts of the remaining structure are already being dismantled after warnings that sections of the fire-scorched masonry could crumble and fall into the street below.

The Glasgow School of Art is most well-known building designed by Mackintosh, who is considered Scotland's most famous architect. This year is the 150th anniversary of the architect's birth and Dezeen took a look back at five of his most significant projects to mark the occasion.

Main image is courtesy of the Glasgow School of Art.