Glasgow Art School fire: What caused the fire, will the building be restored, who designed it?
On June 15, 2018, a fire broke out that caused devastating damage to the Glasgow School of Art.
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Almost four years later, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service revealed the outcome of its multi-year investigation into the Glasgow Art School fire.
Extensive damage - walls, bare stone and brickwork is all that remains of the famous building - and a lack of evidence meant that no cause could be identified.
But what could have caused the fire, what will happen to the building now, and why is it so important?
What could have caused the fire?
While the SFRS investigation failed to find a cause, some reasons have not been discounted.
Hundreds of tonnes of rubble were searched for months in the aftermath of the fire at the site where the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed building was being restored following a previous blaze in May 2014.
The possibility of wilful fire-raising, faulty electrical appliances or systems, and accidental ignition were all explored by the team who investigated the 2018 fire. The investigation found that wilful fire-raising and electrical failure could not be fully discounted, while accidental ignition by something like a cigarette could not be fully ruled out.
But despite all the work, the final report stated that “sufficient evidence to support any credible origin and cause hypothesis has not been recovered from the scene or evidenced in witness testimonies or eyewitness accounts”.
The first fire
The fire was not the first at the building. A blaze broke out in May 2014, but firefighters were able to save most of the contents, and 90 per cent of the building of the structure was viable.
It was later discovered that flammable gases from a canister of expanding foam had touched a hot project surface, leading to the blaze.
The library in the Mackintosh Building was lost as a result of the fire, leading to a massive fundraising campaign to restore it.
The investigation report stated the Mackintosh Building was in a vulnerable condition and at higher risk of fire due to the restoration work following the 2014 fire.
The renovation work was well underway in 2018 when the second fire broke out.
What happens to the building now?
A report in October 2021 suggested that the Mackintosh building should be fully restored.
Bosses at the art school support this plan and hope to have it reopen between 2027-2032, after construction work.
Glasgow School of Art director Penny Macbeth and interim chair Kristen Bennie said on Tuesday: “We are committed to the faithful reinstatement of the Mackintosh Building within the practical constraints of the regulatory environment, as an integral part of the GSA, as a catalyst and key driver for the social and economic revival of Garnethill and Glasgow and as an exemplar of sustainability for heritage buildings.”
It is hoped the project could also be at the heart of regenerating Sauchiehall Street and Garnethill.
History of the art school
The Glasgow Government School of Design opened its doors on Ingram Street in 1845, before acquiring its current name eight years later. In 1869 the school moved to the McLellan Galleries in Sauchiehall Street.
Almost 30 years later, a 28-year-old Charles Rennie Mackintosh drew up plans for the iconic Glasgow School of Art building.
The first half was completed in 1899, but it would be another 12 years before the full building would open.
Famous graduates of the school include actors Peter Capaldi and Robbie Coltrane, poets and musicians like Liz Lochhead and Fran Healey, and award-winning artists such as Simon Starling and Martin Boyce.
The Reid Building, named after former director Seona Reid, opened opposite the Mackintosh masterpiece in 2014, shortly before the first blaze.