Architecture Diaries

Glasgow Day 2

Day two in Glasgow and this morning I have booked a tour of the Glasgow School of Art. I arrived outside the School of Art and I was very underwhelmed by what I saw. My taxi pulled up and dropped me off in front of a contemporary glass fronted building with ‘Glasgow School of Art’ written on it.


I was very confused and it was not until inside the building, looking at a model of the Mackintosh School of Art (spectacular by the way) that I noticed a building behind this model. It took a few moments for the realisation to hit me. I was looking at the original Mackintosh building, across the road and completely covered in scaffolding.


Very sadly as most of you will know the Glasgow School of Art was badly damaged by fire in 2014. The Mackintosh School of Art as I later found out is still undergoing major renovation works and is not due to be reopened until 2019! I guess this makes sense as a taxi driver did try to tell me that the building was closed. I thought I knew best and that this could not possibly be the case as I already had the tour booked.

Disappointed to say the least but never the less the tour, that took place in the new Glasgow School of Art building was very interesting and informative despite not actually going anywhere near the Mackintosh building. The highlight of the tour was undoubtably the extensive collection of original Mackintosh furniture housed within this new uni building. The tour guide said that after Mackintosh died due to his lack of popularity at the time a large amount of his furniture was given to the school (where both Mackintosh and his wife studied). This is why the school now has such a large collection of his work.

DSC04526Mackintosh – Master and Slave Clock – 1910

The Master clock (on the left) was linked up with all of the other clock’s in the school. Mackintosh redesigned the clock face in his distinctive style.

DSC04531  Mackintosh – 1898

Designed for the Argyle Street Tea Rooms this is one of my favourite Mackintosh chair designs and was very exciting to see.

DSC04535Mackintosh – Domino Table – 1911

The domino table was designed for the Ingram Street tea rooms. The top part of the table was for playing Dominos. The four shelves were for the tea.

dsc04539.jpgMackintosh – 1911

This chair was designed for the Chinese room at the Ingram Street Tea Rooms.

DSC04546Mackintosh – 1904

This Chair was designed for the head waitress at the Willow Tea Rooms. The chair is quite large to accommodate the large dress worn by the waitress even though large dresses were not fashionable at the time.

DSC04529Mackintosh – 1917

This bold piece, designed slightly later in his career shows mackintosh’s use of geometric shapes as opposed to a more organic form. From ‘The Dug Out’ a space with no natural light Mackintosh uses this colour to try and brighten the space. I was told a fascinating story by the tour guide. This seat was black and it was sent out on loan for an exhibition in Helsinki. It came back with a scratch on it. The scratch was yellow. The original drawings proved the seat to be yellow and had somewhere along the line been repainted in black. As you can see the chair has been restored to the way Mackintosh originally intended it.

DSC04548Mackintosh – 1901

This Bookcase is also accompanied by an interesting story from the tour guide. This piece was originally designed as a toy chest to sit on the floor. At a later date the client came back to Mackintosh and asked him to turn the chest into a bookcase which is what has given it its unusual shape.

I really enjoyed the tour, although initially disappointed. I am also very happy that the money I paid for the tour will go towards the building’s restoration work.

Here you can just about see the sign above the door and some of the original railings.

The disappointment continues today as I’m told that the Willow tea rooms are undergoing renovations. I was told to go to the Buchanan Street Tea Rooms which I found out is another branch of the Willow tea rooms, but the newer of the two.


This however did not disappoint. I have waited a long time to see this sign.

In the Willow Tea Rooms I sat upstairs in the blue Chinese room and took in my surroundings whilst also enjoying a cream tea.

IMG_1291IMG_1289Above are the two separate dining areas at the Willow Tea Rooms.

Before I left I browsed the gift shop and was lucky enough to talk to a very informative member of staff who explained to me in great detail the story of the Willow Tea Rooms. I have been really struggling to get my head around the story with all the different tea rooms, (see additional information on Glasgow for more information.)

Being so close that I actually walked straight past it on my way to the tea rooms I went for a look around the Lighthouse. A building designed by Mackintosh, originally to house the offices for the Glasgow Herald. I went up to the top viewing deck for an amazing view around Glasgow and then back down for a look around the Mackintosh exhibition.

Above: Pictures from Mitchell Lane. Seen whilst looking for Lighthouse and I think possibly even part of the building. (See Below)


DSC04620 Mackintosh – The Lighthouse – 1893-5

Originally designed for The Glasgow Herald the building is now named ‘The Lighthouse’ which is in fact not a lighthouse in the middle of the city! It is the name of the building and actually the support for a water tank. The lighthouse is now a visitor centre and exhibition space as well as a great place to see the rooftops of Glasgow and visit an original Mackintosh design.

Above: Views of Glasgow from the Lighthouse’s viewing deck.

Back to the main square for a bit of shopping. I got to fully appreciate Buchanan Street with some very beautiful and varied buildings.


dsc04587.jpgAbove: Princes Square Shopping Centre 

I love the Peacock that proudly adorns this building, it’s really quite spectacular and compliments the building beautifully.



I have since found out (whilst writing these diaries actually) from my very informative book called ‘Visiting Charles Rennie Mackintosh’ by Roger Billcliffe that this beautiful building above, (a building that caught my eye instantly) was the original site for the Buchanan Street Tea Rooms. Although It’s hard to imagine the Mackintosh style inside this building as the two don’t exactly match but I think we can all agree that this building has a stunning exterior.

In the fading light I also got my first proper Christmassy experience of the year. Glasgow by Christmas light.

Followed by coffee in what has to be the most beautiful Cafe Nero I have ever been in before. Time now to head back to my hotel after another busy day in Glasgow.