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Selasa, 09 Juni 2009


Few great architects have been so adamant in their belief in the integration of architecture and design as Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Client who tried to modify his grip on every detail of the structure, interior decoration or furniture often ended up with the architect losing his temper – and his commission. Now, 63 years after he died, Mackintosh has found the perfect patron, in the form of a 56-year-old structural engineer and fellow Glaswegian named Graham Roxburgh.

The story begins with a competition launched in December 1900 by Zeitschrift Fur Innendecoration, an innovative design magazine published in the German City of Darmstadt. European architect were invited to design an Art Lover’s House. Mackintosh sent in his entry in March 1901, his one chance to design a house unfettered by financial constraints or a conservative client. But he was disqualified for failing to include the required number of drawings of the interior. He hastily completed the portfolio, which he then resubmitted. Delighted with the designers, the judges awarded Mackintosh a special prize (there was no outright winner).

Publication of these drawings did much to establish Mackintosh’s reputation abroad as an original and distinctive architect, particularly in Austria and Germany. The Art Lover’s House is an important twentieth-century building because it anticipates the abstract forms the thirties. Artists of the avant-garde Vienna Secession described Mackintosh as “our leader who showed us the way” – an acclaim that he was never able to giant at home. Rich Glasgow businessmen never quite took him seriously

But today Glaswegians hail Mackintosh as their local genius. Three years ago, the enterprising Mr. Roxburgh, who has already rescues Craigie Hall, a mansion on the outskirt of Glasgow that Mackintosh helped design, hatched a plan to build the Art Lover’s House – now close to completion on a site in Glasgow’s Bellhouston Park. Strathclyde Council, the Scottish Development Agency and the Scottish Tourist Board have picked up a third of the hefty 3 million bills. Roxburgh has raised the rest through sponsorship and private loans.

The original design contradicts each other in places. Details of the elaborate external stone carvings and much of the furniture and fitting for the main interiors – which will be open to the public – are exact, but Mackintosh gave no indication of what should be done with the lower ground floor or the roof spaces. No matter, for the area would be rented out as offices to recoup some of the coast. The plans have been meticulously interpreted by Andy McMillan of Glasgow’s Mackintosh School of Architecture and the furniture made by an expert cabinet-maker.

The elegant, mysterious music-room is lit by tall windows along one side; the vertical lines are repeated in the elongated female figures embroidered on linen that hang in the recesses, in the clusters of colored lamps suspended on slender wires and the uncomfortable high-backed chairs. The whole effect culminates in the strange superstructure of the piano.

What would Mackintosh have made of the Art Lover’s House? There is a danger it will be all too perfect, like those expensive reproduction Mackintosh chairs you find in shiny magazines or on the dust-free floors of design buffs. Yet he is a man after Mackintosh’s heart. He is now hunting for an extra 300.000 pound sterling to complete the interiors according to his exacting requirements.

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