Hill House - A Charles Rennie Mackintosh tour de force
On my way back to the Isle of Skye from the Scottish Association of Writers annual conference, I stopped off at Hill House near Helensburgh (image above of the house when newly built).
It was my first visit since the controversial 'box' was put in place to protect the saturated building from further deterioration and to buy time for it to dry out. The original building materials having proved inadequate for the weather in the West of Scotland.
As an historian, I was apprehensive about what I would find. First impressions as I approached were not particularly positive (see the image below)! In fact, I found myself preparing for the worst.
However, I was soon to change my mind. I found the house intact beneath its off-putting exoskeleton. More than that, I was afforded an improbable tour of the exterior from every angle.
I was able to appreciate details I had never even noticed when the house was open to the elements. I found myself looking at Hill House with the eyes of its architect. I walked above the roofline, peering through first-storey windows and photographing every chimney ( my wife Helen's obsession!).
I will post about the fabulous interiors another time but in one modest room, The National Trust for Scotland posed a question for every visitor to answer. I am going to repeat it here for you to think about.
Once the planning permission for the box ends - what should be done?
Apply to keep the box permanently to protect the building from water ingress.
Remove the box and add sills and other (drainage) features that would help with preservation but alter the original design.
Remove the box and let the weather do its worst.