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Glasgow School of Art announces duo of symposia on restoring the Mac

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Symposiums on restoring the fire-damaged Mackintosh Building are set to take place in Venice and Glasgow

The first of two symposia, which will inform the school’s reconstruction plans, will take place at the Querni Stampalia in Venice, next month, with the second held in Glasgow in the spring.

The Venice Symposium forms part of Reiach and Hall’s programme for Scotland’s month-long residency at the Venice Biennale. It will take place alongside academic research projects focusing on the restoration of the 1909 Charles Rennie Mackintosh building.

Announcing the Venice symposium, Christopher Platt, head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture said: ‘What should the plans be for bringing the Mackintosh Building into full use once more and how should we approach the particular issue of the Macintosh Library?

‘These are highly complex questions and by necessity any discussion must involve contributions from many different people and organisations from across the world. We will therefore host two symposia, the first in Venice this autumn and the second in Glasgow next spring, to explore the future of a space beloved by so many.

Platt added: ‘We have decided to focus on the topic of the Mackintosh Library specifically as this is the most delicate and culturally and intellectually significant aspect of the entire post-fire work. The first symposium will open publicly the discussion about the issues associated with rebuilding the Mackintosh Library and it will generate key themes to inform the structure and content of the second symposium.’

Cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs Fiona Hyslop added: ‘The Glasgow School of Art is an extraordinarily well-loved building, both here in Scotland and around the world. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece has a very special place in the history of world architecture. The symposium at the Querini Stampalia, prior to the spring symposium in Glasgow, will provide an important opportunity with an international audience to discuss Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art and, in particular, to consider the highly sensitive challenges relating to the rebuild of its library.’

More than 200 fire fighters worked to save the building and much of its contents after a fire broke out at the School of Art on 23 May.

Although 90 per cent of the structure was saved, the fire destroyed the Mackintosh library and caused millions of pounds-worth of damage to the western end of the Art Nouveau landmark.

Last month the Glasgow School of Art announced it was all set to begin the search for an architect to restore its Grade A-listed building.

Speakers and how to book tickets for the symposium will be announced shortly.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I very much hope that these two symposia don't turn out to be forums for promoting the idea that to restore the School of Art 'as built' would be to condemn it to just a repro 'Mockintosh' sham.
    This view was being promoted last week by the former director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and chair of the Friends of the Glasgow School of Art, David Mullane - who seems to have got carried away by the concept of modern interventions in the fabric of historic ruins.
    The Glasgow School of Art is not a ruin.

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