In May 2014, a hot projector and an exploding can of foam ignited a blaze that destroyed the iconic Art Nouveau library of the Glasgow School of Art. Considered the masterwork of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the library was completed in 1909-1910 and deemed to be one of the best examples of Art Nouveau design in the world. After the fire, restoration plans immediately kicked into gear.
The research has been meticulous. Careful examination of burnt timbers and other items salvaged from the fire has shed new light on the techniques used to outfit the original interior, including the timber joints, nailing techniques, and assembly strategies. This information has been put to use in a full-scale prototype of a section of the library, unveiled last week.
Created by architectural conservators and carpenters, the partial replica is being used to test materials and methods for recreating the iconic space. The original shelves and columns were made of American Tulipwood, and the recreation will also be made of Tulipwood brought over from America. The designers are also testing painting techniques on the wood to achieve the same look and feel as the library originally appeared. Glasgow School of Art director Tom Inns said in a statement:
“For those of you who remember the library as it was in 2014, the biggest change you will notice is the color. This is how we believe is how the library would have looked in 1910.”