Day 2: The Glasgow School of Art. As designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

My first reaction to The Glasgow School of Art was that it looked like an arty Hogwarts. Whilst walking around, on a tour conducted by one of their students, I discovered that Mackintosh had created something just as elaborate and magical as any fantasy novel.

The building, although designed in one go, was built in two halves. So it is odd in the respect that it is one of the first, and the last, of his designs that Mackintosh saw built. He designed not just the building, but the interior and the furniture also. This makes the entire atmosphere so cohesive that it is almost creepy.

The theme throughout is nature. Mackintosh aimed to remind students that nothing created by man is as perfect as nature. He also reflected on the students growth, during their time in the building, as being like a flowering plant.

His control over everything in the building, as well as the building itself, also allowed Mackintosh to express his unique understanding of light and space; which varies throughout the building from claustrophobic, to dazzling light from huge windows, to be continued throughout the whole of the design.

The technological aspects for the time (the late 1890s) are also impressive. Mackintosh incorporated a system for air cooling and heating (which continued to be used into the 1960s); as well as electric lighting and clocks. The system of clocks in the building are particularly special as they could all be set to tell the same time as a control clock.

The most amazing part of the building for me was the library. It might be because I’m such a book nerd, but also the crowded space was filled with the most richly designed objects in the whole building. The room sees Mackintosh’s vision incorporated into desks, chairs, futuristic electric lights, and of course the two floors of shelving. Unfortunately (and understandably) visitors are not allowed to sit on the original chairs, but students still work in there.  

Overall stepping into Glasgow School of Art is like entering a different (heavily designed and creative) world.

Links: The library Charles Rennie Mackintosh

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