In this essay, I will be discussing how Charles Rennie Mackintosh has contributed to Scottish architecture. I will investigate his influences and how he affected architecture in Scotland over his lifetime.
Born on 7th June 1868 in Glasgow, Mackintosh became interested in architecture as a profession from an early age, and, at the age of sixteen secured an apprenticeship with John Hutchison. In order to complete his apprenticeship, he enrolled in the Glasgow School of Art in 1884, where he met Margaret MacDonald, an artist and his future wife. Due to poor health, Mackintosh often spent weekends in the country-side, sometimes travelling with Herbert McNair, a friend who worked at the architect’s firm of Honeyman and Keppie, (where Mackintosh would later become a partner). Mackintosh delighted in drawing from nature, particularly anything with an interesting or striking colour or shape, often returning with samples to draw later in greater detail. Furthermore, from these trips, he came to discover that every leaf and petal was unique, a fact that he often applied in later works. Together with Herbert McNair and his wife Frances MacDonald, (who was Margaret’s sister) Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald would later form a group known as the ‘Glasgow Four’.
The Four were prominent members of the Glasgow School and were known for their distinctive form of art which combined Celtic motifs and the Symbolist style, and later for being leaders of the Art Nouveau movement in Britain. Their art received mixed reviews and was criticised by some; receiving official disapproval from Walter Crane, a highly prolific writer of the time; However they were appreciatively acclaimed as the ‘Spook School’ by Gleeson White, editor of the artistic publication The Studio. Shortly after this success, Mackintosh was commissioned to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art. The School of Art was Mackintosh’s first and largest commission, and he was awarded it in 1896. Work on the School of Art began in 1897 and extended until 1899, when it was halted, until it was eventually resumed in 1909 and finished.
While designing the Glasgow School of Art, Lethaby’s Architecture, Mysticism and Myth was to be an important source of principles for Mackintosh, due to its connecting of the Arts and Crafts movement with the Celtic beliefs and Mysticism that greatly interested him. He also put great stock in John Ruskin’s views on materials that iron and glass ‘will never worthily take the place of stone because of this defect, the want of mass.’ For the School of Art, Mackintosh decided to use local granite on three sides and brickwork on the fourth. The building was designed by Mackintosh in the Gothic Revival manner so that the exterior would act as a skin the main structure inside. The north façade on Renfrew Street is dominated by large studio windows and a heavily sculpted main entrance with medieval motifs. The eastern end uses gables, projecting turrets and is set...