1. Column index

Mackintosh Calendar1996.06

Steel Sheet Structures

Arch. Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was born in Glasgow, an industrial city in Scotland. He was a talented designer and artist who could design architecture, interior, furniture, lightings and textile.
One could not speak of an architect without mentioning the place and era he lived in. Glasgow at the end of 19th Century was the second largest city in UK. It flourished as the center of technological innovation. The economy and the population of the city kept on growing. The city became very rich through heavy industries such as shipbuilding and steam locomotive manufacture. Equally, science technology for electronics and architectural material advanced rapidly. At that time, people in Glasgow preferred to live a modern life while people in London preferred to cherish tradition.
Mackintosh began to distinguish himself when he won the competition for the design of new building at Glasgow School of Art at the age of 27. The style of his architecture was modernistic and functional compared to the academic architecture style of the times. The construction of this building was divided into two phases (First phase; 1897-99, Second phase; 1907-09). His style changed greatly during the ten years. Design of the central hall and the west wing is based on Art Nouveau style, while design of the library and the east wing is based on mechanical and geometric Art Deco style. He was at his best during those ten years. He designed a series of masterpieces one after another. This building stands gallantly still today on a little hill at city center.
Mackintosh is characterized by his comprehensive approach to spatial, interior and furniture design. His unique style can be best observed in the design of the Mackintosh House, and the Hill House (1902-1904). The Mackintosh House was relocated and reconstructed at the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow. The original furniture designed and used by Mackintosh has been retained and exhibited there.
United Kingdom in the 19th Century was in the period of technological innovation. Especially Glasgow, the city Mackintosh lived in, was a major industrial city that flourished due to the advancement of industrial technology.
Mackintosh was critical of traditional architecture, which was mainstream in UK at that time. While influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, he believed in the possibility of new machine civilization and technology. He eventually developed modernist ideology of his own as he practiced architecture. Later in his career, when Arts and Craft movement was still flourishing in UK, he changed the base of his activities to Europe where people were more flexible.
Art Nouveau is a French term meaning “New Art”. This movement was led by avant-garde artists at the end of 19th Century when every country was going through a series of technological innovation. They strived to find a new style of art and craft using new technology. They struggled between adaptation and rejection, in order to break free from preconceived view of the world. This eventually paved the way for the Modernist movement. This new style is characterized by its diversity and degrees of freedom. It was unique in the way that it reflected artists’ background and nationality, and exhibited different patterns of development as it spread around the world.
Its origin and later developments suggests how exceptional this epoch was, and how it still affects us today.