THE grand columns and intricate Gothic flourishes are in stark contrast to the clean lines and symmetry of the original Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece.

However London-based architect Barry Wark believes his speculative design for an extension to the Glasgow School of Art could win over Mackintosh enthusiasts and those who are opposed to a complete restoration of the building.

The 33-year-old, who is originally from Glasgow, has incorporated gardens and a public events space into the extended building, responding to calls for something new to be created for the public.


The architect said his design takes inspiration from the megalithic architecture of the city and Scottish castles, with some references to the original school.


The existing facade and some of the interiors are retained, allowing tour routes to be replicated but studio spaces are transferred into the extension.

However, the design may not please those who are happy that the former O2 ABC music venue is being re-built as the extension takes over the entire site, stretching down to Sauchiehall Street.

One artist described the design as “Frank Lloyd Wright meets Blade Runner in Aztec Glasgow” and said it was an improvement on the scaffolding.

Ultimately, the architect hopes the project will stimulate further debate not only about the art school’s future but also about Glasgow’s architectural heritage and how to bring buildings closer to its people.

He said: “As an architect the heartbeat of the city is always with me. We’ve seen more and more of our architectural heritage destroyed and there are some other buildings sitting in the city that are rotting away.

“I have this frustration on a personal level. Notre Dame went on fire in Paris and there were swathes of architects and designers coming forward with proposals.

“This building was probably the most influential for me as a Glaswegian growing up and to see that husk sitting there with no thought of what to do with it... I just had this urge to try to do something that would, I hope, encourage a bit of positive debate, not only what should happen to the building itself but as a comment on how great the architecture of Glasgow is.


“Our cities are very similar to cliffs in that they are very hard and they get very wet quickly. They have very little soil and rooting space. We become so detached from nature and what nature is, we shouldn’t see nature colonising pockets of our buildings as a negative, necessarily. We have this idea vegetation ruins buildings, that they have to be pristine and perfect. But they age and go on fire and we build extensions and I guess it’s a comment on that.

“We as people love these spaces that have been transformed and I’m thinking of the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London that can host concerts and public events.

“Outside of George Square, Glasgow does not really have that many public spaces for such a European city, so the idea is you would have this semi indoors outdoors place that was an arts focused space. I think it could really offer something to the city.”


Johnny Rodger, Professor of Urban Literature at GSoA, said: “I’m happy about encouraging this sort of riff on the Mac to keep our real issue of that building, the school, its students, its teaching work, its staff, its heritage, this city in public profile and within view of progress. But it’s not really seriously engaging with our problem.”

Mr Wark, who combines an architectural practice with teaching at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, hopes his project will spark debate.

He said: “ If the outcome of doing this proposal is that it wound people up so much they really got behind the restoration of the building, then I have done something positive.”