Past Events

Clean Air, Bright Light: Mackintosh’s School of Art

Research Lunch – Ranald Lawrence

  • 25 February 2022
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • This event is part of the Paul Mellon Centre's Spring Research Lunch series.
  • Online

Construction of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art began in 1897 and, constructed in two phases, was completed in 1910. This talk contextualises the design of the school within the changing environment of turn-of-the-century Glasgow; at the time, one of the most polluted cities in the world. It examines how Mackintosh’s gift for spatial invention was combined with the latest technology (including a mechanical heating and ventilation system that provided clean and tempered air throughout the building) to create a new kind of ‘tempered’ environment unprecedented in its sophistication.

Mackintosh’s design provided a diversity of environmental conditions that allowed the school’s occupants to fine-tune their immediate environment to their activities, but also to enjoy the building’s unique relationship with climate and season. In this way, the architecture (and environmental systems) of the school can be read as a metaphor for the wider transformation of Glasgow – from a dark, smog-filled industrial powerhouse into a refined city of culture.

About the speaker

  • Ranald Lawrence Headshot

    Ranald Lawrence is Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Liverpool. He trained as an architect and has worked with award-winning architectural practices as a designer and researcher. His research examines the history of environmental design, and the relationship between buildings and climate in different cultural contexts.

    Ranald completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge, funded by the AHRC. His research has been published in journals including Building and Environment, Energy and Buildings, Building Research & Information and the Journal of Architecture. He is co-leader of the Communities and Contested Spaces Design Studio at Liverpool School of Architecture. His publications include Architecture and Resilience (Routledge, 2018), and The Victorian Art School (Routledge, 2020), supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.