TWICE engulfed in flames, the Mackintosh Building will be built again.

Three months after the disastrous fire at the Glasgow School of Art, and as contractors are still removing dangerous masonry from the ruins of the world-famous art school building, its board has resolved to rebuild it from the original designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Muriel Gray, the broadcaster and writer who is chair of the board of the GSA, says that the building could be rebuilt within four to seven years.

It seemed to many that the story of the world-famous Mackintosh Building, a beloved home for artists, academics and students for more than a century, had come to an end with the overwhelming June blaze, which come only four years after a smaller but still devastating fire in 2014.

However, Ms Gray said that the board of the school is unanimous in its desire to rebuild the school as Mackintosh intended it.

It has been estimated this project could cost around £100m, but Ms Gray said the school hope to use minimal amounts of public money for the project, and rely principally on funds from its insurance cover, and a major private fund-raising drive.

In a lengthy interview with the Herald on Sunday this week, before students once again return to their studies at the school, Ms Gray said there is no chance that a contemporary, newly-designed building, will ever take place of the 'Mack', and said she hopes it could be rebuilt well before the centenary of Mackintosh's death in 2028.

"It is absolutely coming back," she said.

The art school, she said, had consulted the architecture world in 2014 about the future of the building, and concluded it had to stick by Mackintosh's designs: and that determination has not changed.

The Mackintosh Building is a well-archived design, and, she says, can be built almost exactly to the architect's vision.

READ MORE: The Herald on the Mack 'rising from the ashes'

Original plans from the Mackintosh Building, built in two stages between 1896 and 1909, are held in the GSA's stores and at the Hunterian at Glasgow University, and the school also has digital plan, called a BIM Model, from the restoration work following the 2014 fire.

Ms Gray said: "This time it will be built with such knowledge and expertise that we have learned since 2014.

"We are resolved that the Mackintosh comes back as a working art school, as a major player, a cultural leader for the city and the Scottish economy."

She added: "Imagine the thrill of saying, 'We have an architect for this project: who is it? Charles Rennie Mackintosh.'"

"The roads lead back to Mackintosh, absolutely and non-negotiably.

"As far as we are concerned that decision we made in 2014 has just been interrupted."

Ms Gray, who attended the art school before her career on TV and broadcasting, added: "It can be rebuilt. The absolute genius of Mackintosh was his modernity.

"The modern technology now to it is there, but not only that, this can be a huge project for our students and community, to be part of the rebuild, getting our own students involved in research projects as it goes up.

"This will be a rebuild, and the excitement of being able to do that is thrilling."

How long will a rebuild take?

"People argue anywhere between four and seven years," she said.

"That will depend on the insurance money, getting the right people in place to do it, building regulations, all the standard technical and financial stuff, but this is not Gaudi [whose famous and ornate Sagrada Familia cathedral is still being built in Barcelona] - for the forensic detail we have on the building, we could practically 3D print it.

"We know everything about it, down to the nails."

READ MORE: The Herald on the future of the 'Mack'

She added: "It will be beautiful. It will be as Mackintosh designed it, to the millimetre."

There will be some changes, Ms Gray noted, including new IT, and some new building materials and will be "absolutely fool-proof, gorgeous and safe, modern building forever, with no limitations on it."

Ms Gray said the rebuild of the school will be funded almost completely from insurance money and private and charitable fundraising.

"We are entirely trusting that this is not going to cost any public money at all," she said.

"We are hoping - because you don't know what adjustments you have to make to conform to modern building standards - but that is our hope."

Ms Gray said she had been "heartbroken" by the effects of the fire on the businesses nearby, notably the nearby CCA.

The Centre for Contemporary Arts has been closed as one of its fire exits, on Scott Street, is deemed by Glasgow City Council officials to be in an unsafe position, down a steep hill from the west end of the Mackintosh Building, which is still being partially dismantled.

"I am trusting, and crossing my fingers, that no one will let the CCA go under," she said.

"It is connected to us at the hip."

On the fire, Ms Gray insisted its fire safety precautions had been "absolutely spot-on."

A recent report said that in the restoration process from the first fire, flammable insulation materials had been used.

There were no sprinkler or cloud suppressions systems yet in place, she said, because it was a building site under the authority of the building contractors, Kier.

READ MORE: Muriel Gray on optimism after the fire in June

A "state of the art" system was due to be put in, a spokeswoman said, but could not be operated during the re-building of the art school.

There was 24-hour security in place, she said, something the school "insisted on".

Ms Gray said: "Fire prevention was No.1 on our list - I can't tell you how closely we worked with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the experts architecturally and heritage bodies.

"We have no idea whether anything in the building, which had all been completely 'specced' as being the gold standard for safety, have any involvement in this at all.

"What we do know is that we are confident that we did everything we could."

Ms Gray said that she and the school are still no nearer to knowing what caused the inferno which engulfed the school in June.

Police Scotland have been questioning witnesses to the fire but until police and fire service experts can enter the building safely, the full investigation into the fire cannot begin.

Students at the art school begin their 2018/19 studies tomorrow, and around 1000 are being taught off-site in a series of premises away from the Mackintosh Building, and the still-closed Reid Building, which has a damaged exterior.

Gray disputes a notion, expressed in social media, that the hierarchy of the GSA has been silent or secretive since the fire.

READ MORE: Mackintosh expert on the potential rebuild

She said: "This fire has been a complex, unholy disaster from day one, just the amount of people it has affected.

"So there wasn't an instantaneous thing where we could stand in front of the cameras and say 'here's what's happening', because we don't know - we still don't know what the cause of the fire was, that's in the hands of the police and the fire service, and it happened to all of us, the whole community and Sauchiehall Street.

"For three months, to us, it appears we have been vocal, talking to everyone who matters, non-stop - we haven't done a 'it's all about us' big press thing, because we have really busy speaking to everybody, and using our influence to try and help other agencies, institutions, and residents.

"We've been madly busy, the staff and governors - no one has been taking holidays and working non-stop.

"We've not been silent - we have been talking constantly. But we know it is not all about us, we are part of it, we are acutely aware of the affect it has had on the Garnethill community."

Ms Gray said that the insurance coverage for the building is robust and "100% watertight."

She said that police have begun investigations into the fire, but there are no further insights into the blaze.

Further investigations cannot be done until investigators can analyse the ruins.

READ MORE: Residents finally allowed home after fire

It is understood the fire may have started in the roof.

She said: "We actually haven't a clue, and that is why the police are still involved: everyone is looking for answers, not least of all the insurers.

"They cannot do forensics until they can go on site, and that is in the hands of the city council.

"I am really impressed with the circumstantial evidenced they can put together before they get down among the bricks."

She added: "They had warned us that sometimes they just don't know what caused a fire - so far they have been interviewing and putting together the story, the timeline.

"I don't know, I don't know any more than anyone else does. I don't have a clue. Everyone is telling everyone as it unfolds: there are no secrets here.

"In immediate terms, it doesn't matter - right now I am interested in how we go forward."

READ MORE: Creative solutions needed for the CCA

More than 2,500 students resume or start their studies at the GSA this week.

There are places for students to learn and be taught across the city, Ms Gray said.

"In three months, our astonishing team have found decants for 2,500 students," she said.

"The most important thing for us is their morale.

"The biggest message we want to send out to them is: you are still at the most thrilling art school, watch how you cannot knock us down, this is the family you are part of - we are not drawing in like tortoises into our shell, we are not licking our wounds.

"Everytime something happens, whether it is a disaster or financial, funding cuts or Brexit, we will make it an opportunity."