Rebuild the Mac, but why stop there?

Ben Flatman

Mackintosh’s devastated art school is not the only significant building in Glasgow that should be rebuilt, argues Ben Flatman

The latest disaster to befall Glasgow School of Art has already brought forth predictable calls for the site to be cleared and replaced by an entirely new design. But sometimes a building is simply too significant to let go, no matter how much it’s been damaged. The Mac is one of them, but British cities could benefit from taking a closer look at how Germany has quietly embarked on a more widespread reconstruction of its fire-ruined historic centres.

The hostility to creating replicas of destroyed buildings and cityscapes has its origins in modernist dogmas around “honesty” and “integrity” in materials and structure. The 1964 Venice Charter on restoration prohibited reconstruction based on “conjecture” and became a widely recognised global standard for how to manage the conservation and restoration of buildings. Once gone, it was deemed practically immoral to recreate what had been lost.

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