Glasgow School of Art has been almost completely destroyed after being ravaged by fire for the second time in four years
According to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service which was called out to the blaze at Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1909 landmark last night (11.19pm, 15 June) there has been ’exceptionally significant’ damage to all parts of the building.
In May 2014 the school’s Mackintosh Library was gutted when propellant gases from a canister of expanding foam being used by a student in the north basement of the Art Nouveau masterpiece were sucked into a home cinema-style projector. Although the fire spread through ventilation ducts and behind timber-lined walls to the library, firefighters managed to save 90 per cent of the building.
However the latest incident is understood to have caused ’extensive damage’ to the A-listed building and at its peak the blaze was being tackled by more than 120 firefighters.
Around 20 fire engines were called to the scene of the fire which, the fire service said, had ’taken hold of the Mackintosh building’ and spread to neighbouring buildings including the Campus nightclub and O2 ABC music venue.
There have been no reported casualties and the cause is still unknown.
Speaking earlier this morning deputy chief officer Iain Bushell, the officer in charge at the scene, said: ’This is an extremely challenging and complex incident, but the response and professionalism of our firefighters has been exceptional.
’The fire took hold of several properties including the O2 ABC nightclub causing extensive damage.
‘This will be a prolonged incident and crews will remain on the scene as they work to prevent further fire spread and damage.’
Following the blaze in 2014, Page\Park won an international competition to restore the building with the government pledging £5 million towards its rescue (see AJ 27.06.14). A provisional date of spring 2019 had been announced for its re-opening.
Glasgow-based architect Alan Dunlop said he was ‘heartbroken’ that the building had been so badly damaged in the latest fire: ’My phone started pinging at 4am, when that happens you know it’s not good news. It wasn’t, the messages came from friends and colleagues in the US.
It looks like it has been completely destroyed
’It is devastating not just for Glasgow, but internationally. Mackintosh’s GSA is a world building, the most significant in the UK. It looks like it has been completely destroyed.’
Graeme Nicholls of Glasgow’s Graeme Nicholls Architects said: ‘’I was really shocked and saddened to see the Mackintosh building fire late last night.
’My flat overlooks Garnethill, and I saw the blaze light up the sky last night as I looked out, and soon after saw the reports on social media that it was a second fire at the Mac.
He added: ’The Art School’s Mackintosh building is Glasgow’s greatest architectural gem, and of real international significance. I hope it can be salvaged.’
THREAD on #GlasgowSchoolofArt. I visited the site with @scotfire_glasgo last night, who have done an incredible job to contain a fire that was totally out of control on their arrival and also collapsed the timber clad roof of the neighbouring ABC venue, which dates back to 1875. pic.twitter.com/VyVHypgWTC— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) 17 June 2018
Have just heard the sad news that a large fire has broken out in the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art. It is unbelievable that the building can suffer a repeat of the devastating fire that ravaged the building in 2014. My heart goes out to everybody.— Stuart Robertson (@crmsociety) June 15, 2018
I studied and taught there, learned to see and render the world in images. Last night I made photographs of Glasgow School of Art that I so wish there had never been any need to make. Heartbreaking… again pic.twitter.com/TnN7RuqOBI— David Pratt (@foreigncorr1) June 16, 2018
The sun is rising over the Glasgow School of Art to illuminate a heartbreaking scene. Thoughts are with the staff and students. Glasgow mourns her lost architectural masterpiece and hopes it will once again rise defiantly from the ashes. #glasgowfire #gsafire #glasgowschoolofart pic.twitter.com/NJpipPx7RY— Jack Carr (@iLoveBuildings) June 16, 2018
So very sorry for everyone involved in the huge effort to restore Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art, now destroyed by fire again. This was a work of extraordinary genius.— Hugh Pearman (@hughpearman) June 16, 2018
Statement from the Glasgow School of Art – 16 June 2018
A major fire started in the Mackintosh Building around 11.15pm last night, Friday 15 June 2018. The incident is still ongoing and the site is currently under control of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (SFRS). We are liaising closely with SFRS, with Kier Construction Scotland (the Mackintosh Building contractors) and both the Scottish and UK Governments. SFRS investigations are ongoing and we are awaiting their outcome.
The Mackintosh Building has been undergoing a period of extensive restoration following the fire in 2014 and therefore has not been a part of the GSA’s operational campus for four years. Whilst the fire in ‘the Mack’ is devastating news, The Glasgow School of Art’s immediate focus is on our students, and on the continuing operation of the GSA to ensure minimum disruption to students and staff. The GSA and all of its buildings will remain closed for the next week, and we will provide updates as and when information is available.
We hugely appreciate the messages of support and offers of help that we have received from around the world. We would ask that at this time any such offers should be sent in the first instance to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will try and respond as soon as is practicable.
Alan dunlop photo of mac after 2018 fire
Source: Alan Dunlop
Detailed report of 2014 fire
Where the fire began
The fire started in Studio 19 in the north basement, west wing of the Mackintosh Building within a student exhibition space – approximately 6m x 2.5m, constructed of chipboard and wooden studs.
The student work comprised high expansion foam panels (fabricated outside the exhibition space), and were approximately 50-75mm in depth, fastened to three of the walls, with one wall left blank to receive projected images from a projector mounted on the opposite wall.
At the time of the incident visible gaps between the foam panels were being filled-in by applying foam directly from a canister of expanding foam.
The fire originated within a projector mounted on a shelf approximately 1.7m from the ground and located on the south wall of the studio. (Projector details - Epson EMP-TW680; this was the property of GSA and had been purchased in 2008; it was maintained by GSA Technical Services Department; it had been subject to inspection, cleaned and tested prior to being loaned, with guidance, to the student; annual portable appliance testing (PAT) had last been carried out in December 2013).
Fire was caused when flammable gases (Isobutane, propane and dimethyl ether) used as a propellant within a canister of expanding foam was discharged in close proximity to the projector.
These flammable gases were drawn into the projector cooling fan. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service report has ruled out ignition being caused by this equipment being defective, finding no evidence to suggest the projector had not operated as the manufacturers intended. It is likely that indirect ignition of the flammable gases occurred as it passed in and around energised electrical components of the projector.
Once ignited the flame front would have grown in size consuming plastic components and the plastic casing of the projector, flames then impinged onto the foam which was placed on the wall directly behind it.
As flames and hot gases reached ceiling level of Studio 19 they spread horizontally, igniting further timber panelling and entered voids in the walls on both sides of the doorway of Studio 19.
Flames then travelled through the voids in the walls into Studio 31 on the ground floor, directly above Studio 19. Fire spread vertically either side of the doorway and also horizontally behind the timber panelling, in a westerly direction, in Studio 31. At least four voids run vertically in the walls of Studio 31 and these allowed unchecked fire spread to areas above, as well as on the same level.
One of these voids allowed lateral access to Studio 32 at ceiling level. From Studio 32 the fire spread through voids to the Mackintosh Library above. The construction, layout, and high fire loading (timber furniture, panelling and books) meant that the room and its contents became totally involved in the fire. From the Library the fire spread vertically via voids to the Library Storage Space above and then into Studio 58 via these same voids.
Returning to the ground floor within Studio 31, fire spread via all four vertical voids to the first floor Studios above 43, 44 and 45. The fire achieved this by breaking through timber panelling which cover the voids, allowing access into the corridor outside the studios.
Fire then spread laterally from the Professors’ Studios to Studio 57. From here, the fire also spread into Studio 58.
A major contributory factor for the fire spreading throughout the building was the number of timber lined walls and voids, and original ventilation ducts running both vertically and horizontally throughout the building. The vertical ventilation ducts consisted of both brick-lined - within the walls - and timber ducts - mounted on the wall surface. The brick-lined ducts were formed within the structure of the walls. Horizontal ducts were constructed of timber and, in some instances, sheet metal. A vertical service void ran the entire height of the building to roof level and acted like a chimney. It allowed flames, hot gases and smoke to travel vertically.
A fire suppression system, designed to enhance existing fire protection measures, was being installed and was in the latter stages of completion; at the time of the fire the system it was not fully commissioned and was not operational.
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