Glasgow & West Scotland

Venice meeting over fire-hit Glasgow School of Art plan

Mackintosh building, GSA Image copyright GSA
Image caption Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh building was badly damaged by fire in May

Architectural experts are to gather in Italy and Scotland to discuss the restoration of Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) fire-damaged Mackintosh library.

The art school will host two symposia to explore key questions around the rebuilding of the unique library.

One will be held in Venice in October and the second in Glasgow next spring.

GSA is involved in ongoing efforts to raise £20m to restore its famous Grade A-listed Mackintosh building which was badly damaged by fire on 23 May.

Firefighters managed to save about 90% of the structure and 70% of its contents, although the Mackintosh library was among the most badly-damaged areas.

Officials at the art school have said the symposia will be "fundamental" to informing future construction plans.

Professor Christopher Platt, head of GSA's Mackintosh School of Architecture, said: "What should the plans be for bringing the Mackintosh building into full use once more and how should we approach the particular issue of the Macintosh library?

'Complex questions'

"These are highly complex questions and by necessity any discussion must involve contributions from many different people and organisations from across the world.

"We will therefore host two symposia, the first in Venice this autumn and the second in Glasgow next spring, to explore the future of a space beloved by so many.

"We have decided to focus on the topic of the Mackintosh library specifically as this is the most delicate and culturally and intellectually significant aspect of the entire post-fire work."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The iconic Mackintosh library was destroyed in the blaze

The Venice symposium will feature keynote speakers with figures invited to attend from fields such as architecture and heritage.

The event, on 18 October, is taking place in Querini Stampalia during the 2014 International Venice Architecture Biennale. Members of the public will also be able to attend.

It will be aligned with the Scotland and Venice programme presented by architects Reiach and Hall as part of a residency at the UK Pavilion during the biennale.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "The Glasgow School of Art is an extraordinarily well-loved building, both here in Scotland and around the world.

'Sensitive challenges'

"Charles Rennie Mackintosh's masterpiece has a very special place in the history of world architecture.

"The symposium at the Querini Stampalia, prior to the spring symposium in Glasgow, will provide an important opportunity with an international audience to discuss Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art and, in particular, to consider the highly-sensitive challenges relating to the rebuild of its library."

Details of speakers at the Venice event and of how to book a place will be released in the near future.

Stuart Cosgrove, director of Creative Diversity at Channel 4, will be facilitator for the Building on Mackintosh symposium next month.

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