The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

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Shock at Glasgow School of Art Fire

The Twentieth Century Society has joined with art and architecture lovers across the world to express its shock and sadness at the terrible tragedy that has once again befallen the Glasgow School of Art.

Considered the masterwork of the art nouveau architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the building was undergoing refurbishment following the previous fire in 2014 when on the night of Friday 15 June flames once again tore through the building.

C20 Director Catherine Croft said: “This is a truly magnificent building and to see it once again destroyed by fire is such a terrible tragedy.  This time around it seems it is the building fabric alone which has been damaged and not the collections in the library and elsewhere in the building as they were off-site while the restoration work was being carried out, and so some small consolation can be taken from this.

“Buildings are very vulnerable when undergoing construction and restoration – materials used can be flammable, and processes such as lead working are notorious for causing sparks, although, of course, we do not yet know the cause of the latest fire.

“The decision as to whether to rebuild or not needs very careful consideration – you need to start with an assessment of what is left, what can be made structurally stable and what level of detail of information is available for an accurate recreation. There’s a whole spectrum of options between demolition and complete restoration, and it probably won’t just be a question of ‘either/or.’ It might be that an alternative to ‘restore to former glory’ may now be appropriate.”

Meanwhile, the society is taking heart from the latest Press reports that a consensus was emerging among building control officers, the art school and the conservation agency Historic Environment Scotland that the landmark could be substantially saved.