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Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Hill House2012.7.25

Biography (Chronological)-Charles Rennie Mackintosh

1884(Age.16)_Started practicing architecture
        Studied under Arch. John Hutchison    
        Enrolled at Glasgow School of Art
1889(Age.21)_Transferred to Honeyman and Keppie
1902(Age.34)_Went into partnership with Honeyman
        and Keppie
        Changed the name of their office to   
        Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh
1913(Age.45)_ End of pertnership with Honeyman
        and Keppie

(World War I)

1914(Age.46)_Moved to Chelsea, London, and opened
        his Atelier.
1923(Age.54)_End of his carrier as an architect.
        Devoted himself to watercolor painting in
        South France.
1928(Age.60)_On December 10th, died of cancer of
        the tongue.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow, an industrial city in Scotland, UK, in 1868. The city of Glasgow in the19th century was the second largest city in UK after London. Even within European continent or internationally, it was regarded as one of the most important center of the technological innovation. It was a modern city flourished due to the advancement of spinning and heavy industries such as shipbuilding and steam locomotive manufacture. C.R. Mackintosh lived in this city when it was filled with decadent atmosphere while people still had hope for a utopian society. He was an architect who lived in the turn of the century.
It was only about 30 years from 1890 to 1920 that Mackintosh was actually active as an architect. However his design style changed rapidly in a short period of time. His early works in early1890s were relatively academic and based on beaux style. Soon, he started to incline toward Arts and Craft movement. Eventually, he started to use stretched curves, and material with faint colors such as stain colors. This was characteristic of Art Nouveau style. From 1900s, he started to use abstract geometric patterns based on squares. Colors that he used also changed to white, pink, black and sliver painted over material. From 1910 onwards, he started to use more complicated geometric patterns of Art Deco style. Accordingly his design became more functional and international.
The series of changes in his design shows that he was an architect whose style has always kept up with the times. It is clear that he tried to adapt his design to meet the changing needs of the society. Other architects, namely, Behrens, Hoffmann, and Olbrich have also followed the same path.
The Glasgow School of Art was indeed a masterpiece of his in the sense that it shows the changes in his style and also his architectural ideology in most intelligible way. He started working on this project in 1896 when he won the design competition. He also took charge of the first stage (1897-99) and second stage (1906-09) of construction. Indeed, he spent 15 years of his life on this project. In the first stage, his design was of elegant Art Nouveau style. Later in the second stage, his design changed to geometric Art Deco style. This building is valuable in the way that it shows the relationship between two different styles.
Five years from 1900 to1905 was a great turning point for Mackintosh. He established a group known as “The Four” with H. Macnair, Margaret and Francis McDonald who was his colleague at Glasgow School of Art. They gained recognition in Europe as pioneers of modernism and played a central role as avant-garde artists. It must have been intellectually stimulating for him to be active in Europe and interact with other artists such as Sezessionists.
It is known that they have participated in many modern interior exhibitions held in major cities such as Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Turin, Paris and Moscow. This proves that Mackintosh and the other members of “The Four ” were already internationally recognized and had been playing an important role in the continent. They have left a great impact on young architects and designers of next generation and became the ideal image of freestyle modernist architects.
In his later years, Mackintosh left Glasgow and moved to London. After 1914, he re-designed the home of W.J. Bassett-Lowke (1912-20) and planned the Dug-Out Room (1917) as an extension to the Willow Tea Room. However, he had no other major activities. From 1928 onwards, while Sezessionist architects were active, Mackintosh as an avant-garde architect, stopped practicing architecture and devoted himself in watercolor painting in south France, until he died in December 1928.

■Hill House (1902~04)
The Hill House is one of Mackintosh’s masterpieces. Its design was based on traditional Scottish baronial style. Mackintosh added his own abstract geometric design to it.
This house was built in Helensburgh. It is an upscale residential district that was newly developed for the middle class, located 20 miles from Glasgow. Due to the advancement of railway system, they were able to travel from Glasgow to Helensburgh in less than an hour by steam locomotive. Hill House, as its name suggests, is located on a hill that enjoys the fantastic view of River Clyde and the rural scene of Scottish countryside.
His client, Walter W. Blackie was a director of the well-known Glasgow publisher and also a supporter of young Mackintosh. He lived in the Hill House for 50 years until the day he passed away.
The layout of the Hill House is similar to the Windyhill, Mackintosh’s early work and The Red House designed by P. Webb for William Morris. It is a functional layout where living space and services form a large L-shape. The arrangement of openings, furniture, light, and even the embroidery sewn by his wife Margaret, was planned and designed comprehensively. He designed almost everything except for the dining set requested by Blackie. The appearance and the idea used in the design of Hill House are similar to the proposal of “House For an Art-lover” competition in 1901. The project was actually realized in the land of Scotland as a figure of a sophisticated ideal house.

(Hiroaki Kimura “20th Century Architecture”)