Original features

July 9, 2009

Completed a century ago, the Glasgow School of Art recently beat the Eden Project and the Pompidou Centre to be named as the best British-designed building of the past 175 years by RIBA Journal, the magazine of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The school was built after a competition was held in 1896 to find a designer. The contest was won by a then-unknown junior draughtsman, 28-year-old Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who worked for the local firm Honeyman & Keppie.

However, the budget for the project was a mere £14,000, and a lack of funds meant that only half of the building - including the museum, headmaster's room and board room - could be completed at the time.

An eight-year delay in raising the remaining cash gave Mr Mackintosh the opportunity to refine his style into a unique combination of Scottish Baronial and European Modernist design.

The college's vast windows, dramatic Art Nouveau flourishes and elaborate library balcony make the art school one of the iconic buildings of the early 20th century. It is also a major tourist attraction that welcomes more than 20,000 visitors a year.

Mr Mackintosh took responsibility for all the fixtures, fittings and furniture in the school, including its elegantly austere, and still commercially produced, chairs. For this reason, his personality pervades every detail of the building.

Send any suggestions for this architectural series to: matthew.reisz @tsleducation.com.

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