This year marks the 150 year anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Few UK architects have had more of an influence on art and design, and been more celebrated, than Mackintosh today. His pioneering Glasgow Style went on to massively influence European design and architecture for decades.
Although today he is known mainly as an art deco designer and architect, Mackintosh’s style was much more complex than that, seamlessly blending the simple practicality of modernism with the organic beauty of art deco, the arts and crafts movement and Japanese design.
If you look closely, you can detect all these things in the surviving Mackintosh buildings that are dotted around Glasgow. Here are some of our favourite examples of his architectural genius:
Address: 11 Mitchell Ln, Glasgow G1 3NU
The Glasgow Herald building on Mitchell Street, or The Lighthouse, as it’s now known, was Mackintosh’s first public commission, designed when he was working as a draughtsman at the Glasgow architect firm, Honeyman and Keppie. It was built in 1895 and was once a warehouse at the back of the printing offices of the Glasgow Herald.
After lying derelict for 15 years when the newspaper moved to a new location, this beautiful building was converted into The Lighthouse in 1999- a Scottish centre for architecture and design and has served as a place to inspire new generations of architects ever since.
Scotland Street School Museum
Address: 225 Scotland St, Glasgow G5 8QB
Mackintosh’s last major commission in Glasgow, the Scotland Street School was designed and built between 1903 and 1906. It’s considered to show the architect at the peak of his development, with Mackintosh experimenting with light and space. The genius of the building wasn’t appreciated at the time though: the local School Board repeatedly objected to how expensive it was to build- £34,291 at the time!
The building is now a museum dedicated to the history of school education.
Glasgow School of Art
Address: 167 Renfrew St, Glasgow G3 6RQ
Often considered Mackintosh’s masterpiece, and the building that first brought him to the attention of contemporary European architects, the Glasgow School of Art was designed and built between 1896 and 1909 and the building fuses traditional Scottish baronial decoration with the simplicity and restraint of modernism. The GSA, for this reason, is often considered one of the first ‘modernist’ buildings in the world!
The Glasgow School of Art tragically caught fire in 2014, causing an outpouring of grief across the city. Although the library and some of the wooden interiors were lost, luckily, firefighters were able to save around 70 to 90% of the building. Since then, the Glasgow School of Art has been undergoing an extensive restoration, reopening to the public in 2019.
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