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Work starts on Carmody Groarke’s see-through ‘shield’ over Mackintosh’s Hill House

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Construction has started on a Carmody Groarke £4.5 million scheme for a huge, transparent shelter to protect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House during its restoration 

Backed by The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), the giant box over the Mackintosh-designed landmark in Helensburgh is being billed as the first of its kind.

The six-month project will create a wrap-around ‘porous cage’ which enables the crumbling structure to remain visible in the landscape and open to visitors while the work is taking place. 

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 to be carried out on Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece.

The Category A-listed grey house, built for publisher Walter Blackie in 1902, is considered the architect’s most famous work after the Glasgow School of Art.

The house was gifted to NTS in 1982 but has suffered from decades of extensive moisture ingress aggravated by its exposed coastal positioning, and its long-term survival has been under threat.

NTS’s general manager for Glasgow and West, Richard Williams, said: ‘Mackintosh was a pioneer and a visionary and we’re reflecting that spirit in our approach to saving his domestic masterpiece.

‘This is a project that has been many, many years in the making and it is wonderful to be at the point that we’re now seeing work begin to save such a significant place.

‘What we’re doing here is a rescue plan for the long term and will, we’re sure, protect this incredible building for future generations.’

Carmody Groarke landed the job in 2017 following a contest in which it beat Denizen Works.

The appointment marked the end of a convoluted search, thought to have also involved Zaha Hadid Architects and Hall McKnight in the earlier stages.

Once work on the box is complete, this spring, it will open up to visitors who will be able to use the raised walkways to see the Hill House ‘from a new angle while offering views over the Clyde estuary’.

The scheme is being delivered by contractor Roberston which also worked on Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Macallan Distillery and visitor experience.

Project data

Location Helensburgh, Scotland
Client National Trust for Scotland
Architect Carmody Groarke
Main contractor Robertson
Form of contract and/or procurement Scape Venture
Completion date Spring 2019
Total cost £4.5 million



Source: Image by Jeremy Atherton

Hill House

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