The remains of the fire-ravaged Glasgow School of Art could yet be saved from demolition, according to both the school’s director and the city council
Following the devastating blaze on Friday night (15 June ) many experts had feared Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1909 landmark, which was part way through a £35 million Page/Park-led restoration following an earlier fire in 2014, would have to be flattened.
Glasgow-based Alan Dunlop said: ‘I believe the building has gone. I cannot see it being brought back to life at all. The whole interior is gutted.’
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had also warned there had been ‘exceptionally significant’ damage to all parts of the building.
However, speaking to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council suggested the burned-out shell of the globally significant Arts and Crafts masterpiece could yet be rescued.
‘The external fabric of the building appears to be saveable except for the eastern gable, which appears to have shifted slightly,’ he said. ‘This is because the walls are tied together by the roof.
‘There is a consensus emerging that the intention of the building control people, building control officers, Historic Environment Scotland people and the art school is to save the building.
‘Right now, people are operating on the understanding it will be saveable.’
Tom Inns, director of The Glasgow School of Art, has also thrown his weight behind the building being saved ‘in some form’.
Earlier today Inns told BBC Scotland: ’It can be rebuilt. We’ve got very close to rebuilding it from the previous fire.
’We’ve got a very experienced team now that understands this building intimately.’
‘We’re going to have to stabilise the building’
He added: ’But rebuilding it is going to be a very, very complex process so we’re going to have to stabilise the building – get it to the point of stabilisation - and then we’re going to have to think very carefully about what the strategy for that might be moving forward. And that’s something we’re going to have to discuss with all those people who have an interest in the building.’
Meanwhile, questions continue to be asked about why a new sprinkler system being installed as part of the building’s restoration was not operational.
The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) has said it understood new automatic sprinklers had ‘not yet been fully fitted’.
Four years ago, in the wake of the first fire which destroyed the Mackintosh library, it emerged that a new fire suppression system which could have significantly reduced the damage had been ‘97 per cent ready’ when tragedy struck.
Work on the system had begun in 2013 and almost all the pipework had been installed. But installation of the system had stalled when asbestos was found in the foyer. The final fitting of tanks and pumps had been scheduled to complete once students’ end-of-year shows had finished – but that work was never completed.
Glasgow city centre fire 648x486
Contractor Kier, which had been working on the restoration project, insisted a fire strategy had been in place for the renovation and reconstruction work.
A Kier spokesperson said: ‘An agreed fire-safety strategy was implemented for the build phase of the Mackintosh restoration project, which combined measures for the protection of all those entering the site to work and to alert the authorities in the event of an outbreak of fire.
‘These included a smoke and heat detection system and regular evacuation tests as well as 24-hour, 7 days a week security and fire warden patrols by a team of three guards, originally appointed by the client after the 2014 fire and subsequently by Kier. We continue to work with and support Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and our client as they determine the next steps for the Mackintosh building and site.
‘We have a passionate team of local construction and craftspeople, skilled conservators, supply chain and engineering specialists who have worked incredibly hard on this iconic landmark, and together we are all keen to do whatever we can to help moving forward.’