In 1901, Charles Rennie Mackintosh entered a competition to design a "House for an Art Lover". The competition was set by a German design magazine which sought entries to design "a grand house in a thoroughly modern style", and challenged architects to develop ideas which were fresh and innovative. Mackintosh worked on his submission together with his new wife, Margaret Macdonald, a decorative artist. The result was a portfolio of outstanding designs which have since been admired by Mackintosh enthusiasts throughout the world. Although the House was not realised during Mackintosh's lifetime, construction began in Bellahouston Park in 1989 and the House for an Art Lover was completed in 1996. Making Mackintosh's concept become a reality has provided a challenge and learning process for the many contemporary artists and crafts people who have contributed to the project. As a result, the House for an Art Lover represents a unique amalgamation of historic and contemporary craft and design work. Situated within the beautiful setting of Bellahouston Park, the House for an Art Lover today represents one of Glasgow's most popular visitor attractions.
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The International Exhibition 1901
This building was to be built at Kelvingrove Park. Mackintosh's design submitted was not chosen but it consisted of a plain long elegant building with an ornate dome in the centre, a similar shape to the Taj Mahal dome topped by pointed minarets. He supplied his drawing in pen and ink format.
An Artist's Town House
Between 1900 and 1901 Mackintosh drew up plans for a 3 floor town house with 3 walls, the 4th being supplied by existing buildings to the side of it. Again in the style of Mackintosh it was plain but functional with a modern chic to it. Could this have been his dream home for himself and Margaret? A dream which was not realised. At this time they were still living in their Glasgow flat.
Windyhill Kilmacolm 1901
Windy hill was started in 1899. It is a very impressive residence, tiled in white ceramic tiles up to the attic windows giving it a clean fresh aura. William Davidson was his client, a friend of mackintosh and an ardent admirer of his work. The house features small plain windows to keep out the Scottish weather. This was the first domestic home he was to build from scratch and furnish the interior in the Mackintosh style. Most of the interior contents have been put in the Glasgow School of Art for safe keeping.
The Hill House Helensburgh 1902-1904
The employer who commissioned Mackintosh for the Hillhouse was a man called Walter Blackie. He had viewed Mackintosh's work and liked what he saw including the domestic house at Kilmacolm. He wanted one too. So that Mackintosh could get a feel for what his client wanted he visited often and observed their way of life to try and give himself an insight to what was needed. After all Walter had not been a friend like William had so he didn't know his preferences. The Hillhouse was a scaled down version of the Haus eines Kunstfreundes which was never executed. The design is shaped with a small tower to one side, gridwork windows and light grey outer walls. The inside has a Japanese influence with the furnishings. The black laquer to hide the grain of wood etc. The dining room is large and was meant to be multipurpose and is set with a complementary and welcoming fireplace. The wall and light fittings are beautiful with a mixture of Glasgow rose and tulip designs. Some colour has been added with pinky tones to enhance the black and supply a feminine touch. All the rooms roll together and complement one another, making one large flowing house.
The Willow Tea rooms
These are situated on Sauchiehall St. and owned by Miss Cranston. The building comprises of 4 stories and butts between the traditional architecture of Glasgow. Much of his design features the distinctive gridwork patterns in black with a white background and he cleverly incorporates Glasgow's coat of arms in to his design - the bird, the bell, the fish and the tree. He worked in conjunction with his artist wife for the interior where they designed the textiles, furniture menus and the waitresses uniforms providing a full package.
Many of his masterpieces can be viewed today, seeing is believing and even to this day his work is fresh and modern. It is such a pity that his genius wasn't recognised until after his death and many projects were unrealised.
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