Mackintosh Architecture


Scotland Street School

18 February – 23 May 2015
Architecture Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD

The Scottish architect, artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928) is celebrated worldwide. Yet during his lifetime his career was marked as much by its difficulties as by its successes, with many of his designs unrealised. Mackintosh Architecture is the first exhibition to be devoted to his architecture and offers the opportunity to view over 60 original drawings, watercolours and perspectives spanning the whole of his career. Seen together they reveal the evolution of his style from his early apprenticeship to his later projects as an individual architect and designer.

From an early age, Mackintosh was an exceptional draughtsman. He became an architectural apprentice aged 16 and one year later embarked on a decade of evening classes in art and design at the Glasgow School of Art. On display will be a number of his exquisitely detailed, and highly characteristic, ink drawings for projects including the Glasgow Herald Building, Scotland Street School, The Hill House, Queen’s Cross Church and Windyhill.

The exhibition features Mackintosh’s original designs for the Glasgow School of Art, which he prepared at the early age of twenty nine. A model showing a cross-section of the school and photographs of the external and internal details illustrate his early focus on designing every aspect of a building: the exterior, interior, furniture and lighting. Visitors can also watch film footage of the school.

The exhibition puts in context the environment in which he was designing these projects: the city of Glasgow and the opportunities and clients he found there; his apprenticeship and early collaborative work as part of an architectural practice, to his work an independent architect and designer; the inspiration he drew from traditional Scottish baronial architecture, and his collaboration with his wife, the accomplished artist and designer Margaret Macdonald. An example of their collaborative work can be seen in the 1901 ‘House for an Art Lover’ designs.

Highlights of the exhibition include Mackintosh’s stunning watercolours of the Daily Record Building and Glasgow Cathedral; a selection of models of built and unbuilt projects; a large oil portrait of Mackintosh, by the headmaster at the Glasgow School of Art, Francis Newbery and other photographic portraits.

Although internationally celebrated today, Mackintosh achieved little popular success during his lifetime.  The majority of his projects were realised between 1896 and 1909, after which he was frustrated by the lack of commissions and patrons, leaving many of his designs unrealised. The exhibition will display a number of his unbuilt designs including artists’ studios in Chelsea, country lodges, the House for an Art Lover (subsequently built in Glasgow the 1990s) alongside specially commissioned models.

BEYOND MACKINTOSH: Contemporary works by Katy Dove, Liz Lochhead and Lucy Reynolds

Four contemporary artworks to complement the exhibition will be shown in an adjacent space to the main Architecture Gallery. The projects – one audio piece, one poem and two animations – bring the creative spirit of Glasgow to 66 Portland Place. Some respond directly to Mackintosh’s masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art. Others subtly evoke the artistic processes, techniques and style of Mackintosh. Collectively they enable connections to be made between Glasgow at the turn of the century and Glasgow today, where the art school continues to act as a key creative artery of the city.

Mackintosh Architecture has been developed in association with The Hunterian, University of Glasgow. It marks the completion of a four-year AHRC-funded research project led by The Hunterian into Mackintosh’s architecture.

The exhibition is part of a RIBA season of wide ranging events and workshops, designed for all ages and experience levels.

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information contact Beatrice Cooke in the RIBA Press Office:; 020 7307 3813. 
  2. A press view for the exhibition will be held on Tuesday 17 February from 09.30 – 11.00.  Please contact Beatrice if you would like to attend.
  3. Press images can be downloaded here:
  4. The Architecture Gallery at RIBA is open from 10am – 5pm Monday to Sunday and until 8pm every Tuesday. It is closed on Sundays. Free entrance. RIBA is at 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD. Nearest tubes are Oxford Circus, Regent’s Park and Great Portland Street. The exhibition is part of a RIBA season of wide ranging events and workshops, designed for all ages and experience levels. For further information go to
  5. The Architecture Gallery opened in February 2014 in the RIBA’s Grade II* listed Art Deco HQ. Through regular, free exhibitions that explore the past, present and future of our built environment the gallery programme will help visitors discover and explore architecture. The gallery offers the opportunity for the RIBA to display its world class collections contained in the British Architectural Library.  To explore the RIBA collections online go to:
  6. Mackintosh Architecture was curated by Pamela Robertson, Senior Curator and Professor of Mackintosh Studies at The Hunterian for the Glasgow exhibition and by Susan Pugh, Curator, RIBA Drawings and Archives for the RIBA exhibition in London.
  7. Mackintosh Architecture is the result of a four-year research project led by Professor Pamela Robertson, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow.  This has delivered the first authoritative catalogue and analysis of Mackintosh’s architecture:
  8. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with additional support from the Pilgrim Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland provided collaborative input.
  9. The Hunterian is home to the largest single holding of the work of Scottish artist, architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928) and The Mackintosh House, the reassembled interiors from his Glasgow home.
  10. RIBA champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members.  @RIBA
  11. The RIBA is a registered charity and it relies on the generosity of individuals, companies, trusts and foundations to preserve its world-class collections, to maintain free public access to its exhibitions and develop a diverse and exciting public events programme.



Posted on Thursday 27th November 2014

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