The architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh is celebrated here with photographs, drawings and blueprints illustrating his buildings in and around his home city of Glasgow, Scotland.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh's structures are now regarded as part of the international modern movement of the time. His individualistic "Glasgow Style" failed, however, to find a similar level of admiration in the UK as his Art Nouveau contemporaries enjoyed in continental Europe.
As well as the exteriors of his buildings, Mackintosh also designed most of their interiors and furnishings in his unique decorative fashion.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh portrait created with graphite and coloured pencils by Gerald Blaikie. Exclusive copyright© G.Blaikie 2011

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in 1868 in Parson Street Glasgow, near to the site where nearly 30 years later he was to assist in the design of Martyrs School.

Martyrs School, Glasgow

View of Martyrs School, Glasgow

Drawing of stairwell at Martyrs School, Glasgow Doorway at Martyrs School, Glasgow

Martyrs School is one of the the earliest buildings attributed to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, designed in 1895, around the same time as the Glasgow Herald Building . It was built with red sandstone in the Scots Renaissance style, as were most of the new Glasgow schools of the time, which had to follow the design guidelines of the conservatively minded local School Boards.
There are Japanese influences in the use and shape of the projecting timber eaves at the stairwells, left, and also in some of the internal details. These features are credited to Mackintosh, who had studied Japanese art and architecture at Glasgow School of Art.
The external decoration shows quiet indications of his developing Art Nouveau style, particularly around the doorways, right.

Glasgow Herald building

Glasgow Herald Building

The very narrow Mitchell Street was the home of the Glasgow Herald newspaper from 1870 until 1980 when new publishing practices created a requirement for more modern premises.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh is credited with the extension of 1893-1895, which features in many of his familiar design preferences in its exterior. He had more freedom to express his individualism here than with the Martyrs School, designed around the same time.
The lower floors were used as production space where the newspapers where dispatched from platforms open to the street. The upper floors, which have less of an industrial feel about them, were used for the editorial and commercial side of the operation.
When Glasgow was awarded the title "UK city of Architecture 1999", the block was altered and extended to create a modern Architecture and Design centre, the Lighthouse.
As a working newspaper plant, the premises had been altered at various stages throughout the 20th century; as a result there were very few, if any, period furnishings to retain for its restoration.

Part of architect's blueprint - Elevation to Mitchell Lane Part of architect's blueprint - East Elevation

Details of Glasgow Herald towers from architect's blueprints and modern drawing

Drawing of tower of Mackintosh's Glasgow Herald building

Tower of Daily Record Building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Stylised Mackintosh rose in tower of Daily Record Building viewed from the east

The Daily Record Printing Works in Renfield Lane has a frontage finished with white and blue glazed bricks with sculpted sandstone finishes to the ground floor and the top storey. It was designed in 1901 and completed in 1904, nearly a decade after the Glasgow Herald Building with which it has some similarities at roof level and at the tower.

Daily Record Building

Drawing of the façade of Daily Record Building

The view shown above could never be seen in reality as the lane is a mere 6 metres wide. No satisfactory viewing point can be reached to get a good look at Charles Rennie Mackintosh's design intentions. The façade's originality was enhanced by the use of full height tree motifs placed between the bays. Mackintosh created these symbols by the simple use of different coloured bricks.
The proposed leaded dome was never added to the tower during construction, probably because it could not have been seen and properly appreciated.

When the Daily Record vacated the building in the late 1930's it was used as a clothing manufacturing workshop by R.W. Forsyth who were Glasgow's premier outfitters at the time. Forsyth's occupied a large shop in nearby Renfield Street.
Scottish Mutual Assurance housed their computer systems in this building from 1984 to 1997, when it became unoccupied. There was a bridge at second floor level, at the rear of the premises, which allowed access to Scottish Mutual's main offices in St Vincent Street.
There were plans in 1999 to create a nightclub within the empty shell but these had to be abandoned due to the costs involved. In March 2006, Glasgow City Council gave permission to create a café bar and live music venue within the building. The Stereo Bar opened in November 2007, occupying the ground floor and basement of the old works.

Perspective view of Daily Record Building, Renfield Lane

Perspective view of Daily Record Building, Renfield Lane

John Keppie

John Keppie

Charles Rennie Mackintosh worked closely with his firm's senior partner, John Keppie (above), in the specialised and complex design of these newspaper production plants. Contemporary sources credit Keppie as the architect rather than recognising the up-and-coming talent of Rennie Mackintosh. The blueprints showing the sections and construction details of the Glasgow Herald Building are signed "John Honeyman and Keppie, Archts"
It is generally accepted that Keppie was comfortable in allowing Mackintosh to carry out most of the design work for these important commissions which feature typical CRM themes and symbols in the stonework.
The alterations to the Glasgow Herald Building following the First World War and the block's 1927 refurbishment are solely credited to John Keppie, having taken place after Charles Rennie Mackintosh had left the firm.

The Medical Hall at Queen Margaret College, University of Glasgow, was designed by John Keppie and Charles Rennie Mackintosh around the same time as the Glasgow Herald Building and Martyrs School.
The Medical School was originally based at North Park House, near Botanic Gardens, which had become Scotland's first college for women in 1884 and part of Glasgow University in 1892.
A proposal to provide medical courses for female students had been made by several women in 1889 with the financial backing of Mrs Isabella Elder. A formal motion for this provision was adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the college on 28th April 1890. Classes in the study of medicine commenced for 13 students in the winter session of 1890 / 1891.

The funding for the erection of a new Medical Hall in the grounds of North Park House came from the Bellahouston Trust which had been established by sisters Elizabeth and Grace Steven for charitable, religious and educational purposes in Glasgow. The trust had become operative on the death of Elizabeth Steven in 1892.
Keppie and Mackintosh's building was formally opened on 18th November 1895 by Rev. John Caird, Principal of the University of Glasgow.

Elevation of Medical Shool, Queen Margaret College, Glasgow

Medical Hall, Queen Margaret College, University of Glasgow

The Medical Hall was partially demolished and altered during the period when the complex was used by BBC Scotland from 1935 to 2007.
Surviving features include the stairtower which has an attractive open-arched belfry topped with a bell-shaped leaded dome. The balustraded decorative porch has also been preserved.

Drawing of tower of Medical School, Queen Margaret College, Glasgow

Tower and dome of Medical Hall, Queen Margaret Medical College

Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art, North Façade

Glasgow School of Art, situated on a steep hill leading down to Sauchiehall Street, is one of the few Art-Noveau buildings in Glasgow, displaying a style influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh had submitted his designs for the competition in 1895 and was successful in becoming the winning entrant when the result was announced in early 1897. Funding limitatations meant that the building was erected in stages between 1897 and 1909.
Glasgow School of Art still demonstrates a freshness of style and presents a fascinating insight into turn of the century modernism.

The west wing (left) and east wing (right) of the Glasgow School of Art  are situated on a steep hill running down towards Sauchiehall Street, sloping away from the main north-facing façade which fronts Renfrew Street.

Entrance to Glasgow School of Art, drawn by Gerald Blaikie

Drawing of entrance to Glasgow School of Art

Ornate iron railings at Glasgow School of Art

Ornate iron railings at Glasgow School of Art

 Willow Tearooms, Glasgow, Scotland

Willow Tearooms, Sauchiehall Street

The striking façade of the Willow tearooms on the south side of Sauchiehall Street was added by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to an existing multi-storey commercial building in 1904. The highly original and stylish frontage has retained its freshness a century later with a timeless modernity.
Both internally and externally, Mackintosh skillfully managed to combine the elements of architecture and interior design to produce a stunning result.
The subtle effect of the bowed windows (below) creates a 3-dimensional shop front different from any other, either modern or old, in Glasgow's premier shopping street.

Miss Catherine Cranston Miss Catherine Cranston (left), a Victorian lady with a remarkable flair for business, was a pioneer of the tearoom movement which featured greatly in Glasgow's social life at the turn of the century. The luncheon rooms and tearooms which carried her name were well known to most Glasgow citizens, demonstrating her refined taste in the fixtures and fittings as well as the decor.

Drawing of façade of Willow Tearooms, Glasgow, Scotland by Gerald Blaikie

Façade of the Willow Tearooms, Glasgow

Scotland Street School

Scotland Street School

Glasgow's circular subway system will take you from the city centre to Scotland Street School, which is near to Shields Road station.
The building is of a most imaginative design which would have been ultra-modern for its day. It features twin towers infilled with leaded glass which at night twinkles in the lights of the nearby M8 motorway. Both the stonework and interior decoration show Charles Rennie Mackintosh's genius with a novel style which is entirely his own.
The Reverend Alexander Simpson, Convenor of the School Board of Glasgow, formally opened the school on 5th October 1906. It remained in use until 1979, when it had to close as there were not enough pupils to continue in operation.

When Glasgow was the European capital of Culture in 1990, funding was found to restore the building to the original Rennie Mackintosh designs for both interior and exterior decoration. It has served as Glasgow's Museum of Education since 12th December 1990, and currently features period classrooms, exhibition space and an audio visual theatre.

Detail from infants entrance of Scotland Street School

Detail from infants entrance of Scotland Street School


Drawing of western stair tower at Scotland Street School, Glasgow, Scotland

Western stair tower at Scotland Street School

House for an Art Lover

House for an Art Lover, Bellahouston Park

Also on the city's south side you can visit the House for an Art Lover which Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed in 1901 for a competition entry. It was never built in his lifetime but his vision was realised in the closing years of the century when the house was built within Bellahouston Park, opening to the public in 1996.

Detail at House for an Artlover

Detail from south façade of House for an Art Lover

Hill House, Helensburgh

Hill House, Helensburgh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's finest domestic work is situated in Helensburgh, on the south facing slopes of the Firth of Clyde. It was built as a new home for the publisher, Walter Blackie.
The Hill House was built between 1902 and 1904, with further work by Mackintosh in 1912. The interior design and furniture are remarkably well preserved. The extensive gardens are beautifully maintained by the National Trust for Scotland.

Western entrance of Hill House, Helensburgh

Western entrance of Hill House, Helensburgh

Stair tower at rear of Hill House, Helensburgh

Stair tower at rear of Hill House, Helensburgh

Queen's Cross Church

Queen's Cross Church

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Queen's Cross Church, situated close to the Partick Thistle football ground in the north of the city, now serves as headquarters of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society.
The architecture is difficult to categorise and once again illustrates Mackintosh's unique design skills with beautiful Art Nouveau detailing both outside and inside the church. He was responsible for the spectacular interior decoration and fittings as well as the exterior, illustrated above.
A £1 million refurbishment was completed in early 2007.

Drawing of blue heart window at Queen's Cross Church, Glasgow, by Gerald Blaikie

Blue heart shaped window at Queen's Cross Church, Glasgow

At Queen's Cross, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was very bold in his synthesis of a traditional Gothic window with flamboyant Art Nouveau tracery, rather than the usual imitation of mediaeval patterns.
The window features a blue heart infilled with individually coloured small panes of glass, with subtle changes of hue to bring the image to life.
The drawing, above, uses a bit of artistic license to combine the shading of the tracery as seen from the street with the light from the window, which could only be seen from within the church. You'll have to go inside to view the lighting effects properly.

Drawing of tower of Queen's Cross Church, Glasgow

Tower of Queen's Cross Church, Glasgow

The church's multi-faceted tower gives interesting glimpses of light and shadow on its various surfaces.

Ruchill Free Church Halls

Ruchill Free Church Halls

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's only other ecclesiastical work was the Ruchill Free Church Halls which were completed in 1899.
Because of the requirements of the clients, this little building is more conservative than some of his later more modernistic designs. It shows traditional Scottish influences embellished with the individualistic touches which you expect from CRM.
Significantly, the Free Church did not ask Mackintosh to design the adjacent church building.

Mitchell Street entrance to Glasgow Herald Building

Doorway at Glasgow Herald Building

Thomson meets Mackintosh Exhibition

Thomson meets Mackintosh - Mitchell Library, Glasgow, August & September 2007

Visitors to Glasgow during August and September 2007 were able to visit my "Thomson meets Mackintosh" exhibition at the Mitchell Library (above). The exhibition highlighted the work of the city's two best known architects.

Portrait of Charles Rennie Mackintosh with architectural plans

Portrait of Charles Rennie Mackintosh with architectural plans


  Scotland Street School

  House for an Art Lover

  Martyrs School

  Obituary to CRM -1928

  Queen's Cross Church

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  Willow Tearooms

  Daily Record Building

  Ruchill Church Hall

  Gaudi and Mackintosh

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All original artwork, photography and text © Gerald Blaikie 2014
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