Huge cage to save Mackintosh building

7 December 2017

National Trust Scotland (NTS) has announced plans to build a giant cage around Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh to help save and restore the crumbling building.

The building, originally designed and built for publisher William Blackie around 1902 is regarded as one of Mackintosh’s finest works.

At the time of building Mackintosh wished to come up with a modern version of a traditional Scottish building and specified a new, cost-effective harling to cover the exterior of the walls and which had just come onto the market – Portland cement. 

However, after decades of harsh Scottish wind and rain the harling mix has continuously let in moisture. 

Now, NTS is hoping to enclose it in a huge see-through structure while a longer term solution is found.

The transparent “cage”, designed by architects Carmody Groarke, will keep the elements out.

Simon Skinner, chief executive for NTS, said: “We are building what amounts to a shield around and above the Hill House to keep wind and rain out and give the building a chance to dry.”

The structure is effectively a porous cage that still allows some movement of air and a degree of moisture penetration – this is essential to ensure the walls do not dry out too quickly and crumble as a result.

“While the Hill House is being shielded from the elements, our conservation and architectural heritage teams can start work to find solutions that will respect the historic and design integrity of the building, meet the standards and obligations required by its listed status and ensure that this precious place will survive to inspire future generations,” added Skinner.

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