Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.


Carmody Groarke completes see-through ‘shield’ over Mackintosh’s Hill House


The transparent chainmail structure was designed to protect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House during its restoration 

After six months on site, London-based architect Carmody Groarke has completed the construction of a giant box over Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece. 

Considered the architect’s most famous work after the Glasgow School of Art, the Category A-listed Hill House is sited in Helensburgh, Scotland and was originally built for publisher Walter Blackie in 1902.

Hill House is a 20th-century Scottish tower house, characteristic for its slate roofing, roughcast walls and lack of ornamentation.

The project essentially consists of a wrap-around ‘porous cage’ which enables the crumbling structure inside to remain visible in the landscape while restoration work takes place – maintaining access to the house for visitors and protecting it as an ‘artefact’. 

The new museum’s walls are covered entirely with a stainless steel chainmail mesh. According to the team, the chainmail structure will help Hill House ‘to dry out after more than a century of absorbing rain’, and paves the way for further conservation work, thought to take up to 15 years. 

05 hillhouse johan dehlin

The steel frame of the structure is cross-braced and grounded with minimum impact on the existing terraced-garden landscape.

Visitors are able to use raised walkways to see Hill House ‘from a new angle while offering views over the Clyde estuary’. Visitor facilities are housed in a standalone timber building.

32 hillhouse johan dehlin

Backed by the National Trust for Scotland, the giant box is billed as the first of its kind. The house was gifted to the trust in 1982 but it has suffered from decades of extensive moisture ingress aggravated by its exposed coastal positioning, and its long-term survival had been under threat.

Carmody Groarke landed the job in 2017 following a contest in which it beat Denizen Works. Work began onsite at the end of 2018.

226 250 p 20 01 ground floor plan edit

Project data

Start on site December 2018
Completion May 2019
Client National Trust for Scotland
Architect Carmody Groarke
Principal designer Gardiner & Theobald 
Structural engineer Price and Myers
Building services Irons Foulner
Cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald
Project manager Gardiner & Theobald
Main contractor Robertson Construction
Form of contract and/or procurement Scape Venture

226 250 p 30 00 sections 01 edit


Readers' comments (2)

  • It'll be interesting to see the effect of the chainmail envelope on wind-driven rain.
    Meanwhile, as the restoration of Hill House takes a step forward, the salvation of the nearby ruins of the Cardross Seminary seems to be stalled.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Industry Professional

    So who commissioned the special 'photo-op' spade in pic14?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.