Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House reopens inside a box
By Democrat reporter
BBC Scotland is reporting that Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece is to reopen to the public after work to enclose it in a “box” to protect it from the elements.
Hill House in Helensburgh was said to have been seriously deteriorating inside and out because of the effects of a century of driving rain and wind.
Its owners, The National Trust for Scotland, have spent five months enclosing it in a protective cage.
They said it was an “innovative solution” to saving the building.
Public access to the building will begin again on Saturday 8 June.
The Hill House was built by Mackintosh for Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie and completed in 1904.
It is the famous architect’s most complete example of a domestic home, with Mackintosh having had a hand in the design of every aspect of the building and its fittings.
- Protecting Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece by putting it in a box
- Mackintosh Hill House damage revealed by new survey
- Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the rooms that inspired Europe
It was built as “a home for the future”, however, Mackintosh’s experimental design and the use of new materials meant it was showing signs of serious deterioration.
The use of Portland cement in the building’s render allowed water to penetrate the sandstone and further rain and wind have saturated the walls of the house, threatening its survival. Its owners hope the “box” will act as a giant shield covering the entire building.
It is a semi-transparent shelter, consisting of a steel roof and a frame encased in chainmail.
It is designed to allow the garden within the box to continue to grow and for the building to remain visible.
The aim is for the box to allow about 13% of rain to reach the house, allowing it to dry out naturally.
It may take up to three years for the house to dry out fully before conservation work can begin in earnest.
This means the Hill House Box may have to stay in place for between seven and 10 years.
Both the interior of the house and the box will be accessible to the public, who will be able to watch conservators at work.
The design includes several walkways around the upper levels and over the roof, which was not possible before.
The trust has also built a new café and visitor centre.
The total cost of the project is expected to be about £4.5m.