Mackintosh’s Hill House becomes an ‘international iconic house’

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The news is a first for Scotland

Helensburgh’s Hill House, designed in 1902 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for publisher Walter Blackie has become the first Scottish dwelling to be listed on the prestigious and influential International Iconic Houses website.

The website features nearly 200 twentieth-century modernist houses open to the public throughout the world, including properties and studios linked to many celebrated architects of the last century including Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Alto, Arne Jacobsen, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Antoni Gaudí.

“We now have access to the very best of international thinking and discoveries in terms of how to maintain, repair, present and interpret modernist architecture at both a material science level and through the incorporation of new technology including digital access.

Interior photograph of the Hill House, showing the main bedroom. Image: National Trust for Scotland

“As we are just the fifth member of the group from the UK, it also means that domestic dwellings designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh now make up 40% of the UK’s 20th century iconic buildings in the network,” says Liz Davidson, the National Trust for Scotland’s Hill House Project Director.

“We’re thrilled to have the Hill House included within this prestigious group of buildings and to have the opportunity to link with their expert curators and researchers.”

The Iconic Houses Network provides opportunities for members to directly contact their opposite numbers across international borders through online forums and workshops, as well as bi-annual conferences, to discuss and share experience and new learning.

A view of the Gesso panel by Margaret MacDonald Mckintosh in the Drawing Room of Hill House, Helensburgh. Image: National Trust for Scotland

Until the addition of the Hill House, only four UK buildings had been admitted into the network, three of which were in London and the fourth, at Derngate in Nottingham, was another Mackintosh design.

The Hill House is owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, the country’s largest conservation charity. Since 2018, the Trust has embarked on an ambitious conservation programme to arrest deterioration of the property caused by decades of water penetration thanks to west coast wind and rain combined with problematic materials used by Mackintosh for external weather proofing.

Image: National Trust for Scotland

The Hill House is currently shielded by a protective steel box structure, which is allowing its fabric to be dried out in controlled conditions prior to a long-term solution to moisture ingress being applied, with preparatory works for this already underway.

Inclusion in the Iconic Houses Network is welcomed by the Trust as its experts are especially interested to learn from international peers about conservation methodologies and innovation in concrete and cement structures.

The Hill House

Upper Colquhoun St, Helensburgh G84 9AJ

t: 01436 673900


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