Glasgow art school to be partially demolished after blaze

Demolition work is due to start soon on part of the Glasgow School of Art's Charles Rennie Mackintosh building after a second devastating fire in four years
AFP

Edinburgh (AFP) – One of the world’s top art schools is to be partially demolished after it was gutted by a second devastating fire, Glasgow City Council said Friday.

Flames tore through the Glasgow School of Art’s famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh building on June 15, destroying four years of restoration work after a previous blaze.

Glasgow City Council confirmed parts of the building need to be brought down after surveys found that a sudden collapse “is likely, rather than possible”.

Demolition work is expected to start in the coming days.

Raymond Barlow, the council’s head of building control, said: “This building has undergone substantial stress in recent days.

“With each passing day a sudden collapse becomes more likely. It has become urgent that we take down the south facade.

“As the process begins it will be likely that the other walls will also need to be reduced.

“We do not know what effect this will have on the rest of the building so I have to be clear this site remains dangerous — and is becoming more dangerous.”

A restoration project, set to cost between £20 million and £35 million ($26.5 million and $46.5 million; 23 and 40 million euros), had been returning the institution to its former glory following a fire in 2014 – – which began when a projector ignited gases from foam used in a student project.

The cause of the latest fire has yet to be determined. Building renovators were just weeks away from installing a new sprinkler system.

The building’s Glasgow-born architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), was a leading exponent of Art Nouveau, whose distinctive lines and lettering remain influential.

The building was a landmark in Scotland’s biggest city with special government-protected status.

The school’s alumni boast recent Turner Prize for art winners Simon Starling (2005), Richard Wright (2009) and Martin Boyce (2011).

Others include “Doctor Who” actor Peter Capaldi, “Harry Potter” and “James Bond” movie actor Robbie Coltrane, and members from the Scottish rock bands Travis and Franz Ferdinand.

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