“YESTERDAY I stood at the third-floor window of Glasgow School of Art’s Reid Building as a cage carrying four men in hard hats and hi-vis jackets rose up, up, into the air and over the fire-blackened walls of the Mackintosh Building opposite to where the roof should be.”

Brick, stone, steel and glass were the subject of last week’s Radio 3 essay. Or, in the case of novelist Louise Welsh’s tribute to the Mackintosh Building on Monday night, their absence.

Welsh’s short talk began with the negative space that is now The Mack in the wake of the two fires that gutted it in 2014 and then in 2018. But over the next 15 minutes she also covered the place of women in art, the changing nature of Glasgow and threw in the odd reference to Robert Burns and Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

When she first arrived in Glasgow in the mid-eighties, Welsh admitted, she found the cult of Mackintosh in the city a bit irritating. “It wasn’t until I visited the Glasgow School of Art that I realised what the fuss was about.”

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She was never a student at the school of art, but she spent many nights dancing in the Union. And from 2012 to 2014 she was writer-in-residence at the Mackintosh Building during which time she fell in love with the “hen run,” the glass-panelled corridor at the top of the building which offered a “God’s-eye view” of the city.

Her other favourite space in the building was the library. “Think of a Faberge egg an enamelled masterpiece that opens to reveal a centrepiece finer than its unsurpassable shell.”

The Mackintosh Building was a “poem of a place,” she noted. And in this short programme Welsh conjured up a vision of the building as it was and as it is, a mess of charred bones and scaffolding.

“But this is not an obituary,” she added. The Mack, she reminds us, will rise again.

Radio 3’s essay slot is one of those little windows into the world that TV doesn’t really offer. A considered slice of experience and thought. On Wednesday Welsh’s fellow author and Lake District shepherd James Rebanks offered his tribute to a rather more modest building, a croft house owned by his friend Malcolm in Uig on the Isle of Lewis.

“It wouldn’t win any architectural beauty contests,” Rebanks noted. “The house has no historic features or architectural flourishes, no design or material innovations and no ornamentation. It has no garden to speak of, just some wooden decking with a table on it where you can sit if the weather permits. Though I’ve never been there when it did.

“And yet that plain bungalow is one of the most inspiring places I know.”

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What followed was a disquisition on peat-cutting, the Uig chessmen - the famous chessmen, made of walrus tusk, were discovered on the beach that can be seen from Malcom’s croft house - ghost villages and the sense of island community.

Rebanks was concerned he didn’t romanticise island life, but time and again he couldn’t help himself when faced with the beauty of the place. “The sea filled my eyes, cold blue, silver, green and grey,” he said at one point. Listening, you could almost see the waves dancing.

Listen Out For: In the Studio, BBC World Service, Tuesday 11.30am/10.30pm. One for the petrolheads. Journalist Erin Baker visits the Porsche design studio.