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Paul Mellon Centre | Clean Air, Bright Light: Mackintosh’s School of Art

February 25 @ 7:00 am - 8:00 am

A Research Lunch with Ranald Lawrence.
Construction of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art began in 1897 and, constructed in two phases, was completed in 1910. This talk contextualises the design of the school within the changing environment of turn-of-the-century Glasgow; at the time, one of the most polluted cities in the world. It examines how Mackintosh’s gift for spatial invention was combined with the latest technology (including a mechanical heating and ventilation system that provided clean and tempered air throughout the building) to create a new kind of ‘tempered’ environment unprecedented in its sophistication.
Mackintosh’s design provided a diversity of environmental conditions that allowed the school’s occupants to fine-tune their immediate environment to their activities, but also to enjoy the building’s unique relationship with climate and season. In this way, the architecture (and environmental systems) of the school can be read as a metaphor for the wider transformation of Glasgow – from a dark, smog-filled industrial powerhouse into a refined city of culture.