The iconic Mackintosh building can be rebuilt using world-leading digital blueprints of the masterpiece, a leading expert has claimed.

Despite being ravaged by fire at the weekend, leading architectural conservationist, Professor Miles Glendinning, believes the Glasgow School of Art building can be completely restored - it is just a question of finding the money to do it.

Following the fire in 2014, Historic Environment Scotland worked with the school to draw up a digital record of the site using photographs and drawings, with exacting detail down to the nearest millimetre.

Professor Glendinning, director of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, claims this "astonishing" record means that despite the damage being far worse this time round, the building is in a much better position for restoration.

Speaking to Good Morning Scotland, he argued that the structure was of such significance that it should be restored, despite the financial barriers.

"In terms of conservation and restoration, we're funnily enough a lot better off this time because of a very remarkable recording project that GSA undertook after the last fire," he said.

"The building still exists digitally, even if the inside is for the moment physically absent.

"It's a digital recording and reconstruction of the whole building down to the nearest millimetre outside and in, using photos and measured drawings.

"This is kind of a world first for Scotland and it means the start of the restoration work doesn't need to involve questions over whether it can be done at all.

"However bad it looks now, the problem now is not about that, but about when and how it is to be paid for."

Professor Glendinning, who chairs architectural conservation at Edinburgh College of Art, said Scotland could look to other countries for examples of ruined buildings being brought back to life - including Germany where a church destroyed during World War II was rebuilt after 50 years.

Frauenkirche in Dresden was reduced to a pile of rubble but was reopened in 2005 after a 10-year restoration project.

Mr Glendinning said: "As far as the physical damage is concerned, it does look very bad, but it's not as bad as some other cases we've seen in recent history.

"It's really a matter of how long it will take and where the money's going to come from."

He added that he would be "very surprised" if a decision was taken to demolish the building, saying he believes it is more likely that the existing walls will be reinforced.

"It may look absolutely daunting at the moment, but there have been a lot of buildings worse than this that have been successfully restored - and they didn't have this digital record."

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said she has already been in touch with Historic Environment Scotland about the digitisation and has asked officials there to be involved in looking at possible options for the site.

Speaking on Sunday Politics, she said: "I've asked for Historic Environment Scotland, who have worked very closely with Glasgow School of Art over the last four years, to assess... what might be able to happen going forward.

"They have world-leading digitisation. They digitally recorded everything within the days and weeks after the last fire.

"But the severity of this is very serious indeed, so I'm not giving any commitments at this stage."

She explained that firefighters are still at the scene and building control staff and fire investigators have not been able to access the building yet.

Ms Hyslop added: "The Scottish Government stands ready to do what it can to help, as we have done in the past.

"We'll have to identify what the possibilities are going forward, but we've got to be very realistic."