Nominated for the EU Mies Award 2022, The Hill House Box protects Mackintosh’s masterpiece


Nominated for the EU Mies Award 2022, The Hill House Box protects Mackintosh’s masterpiece

Located in Helensburgh, 30 kilometers / 19 miles west of Glasgow, the Hill House is a crucial example of early 20th-century European architecture, and one of the best-known works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh who designed it for publisher Walter Blackie.
Built between 1902 and 1904 the inventive construction is made up of several volumes defined by massive walls. The building is covered externally with an unadorned gray cement plaster that has succumbed to prolonged damage from the rain and weather, making restoration work urgent.


Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Hill House

Designed by Carmody Groarke, The Hill House Box – one of the nominees for the prestigious EU Mies Award 2022 – is a large protective enclosure and an instrumental part of the vital conservation project to save the Hill House as it will prevent further decay and protect it during the restoration work. The roof prevents rain from further damaging the building, while the stainless steel mesh perimeter creates an ethereal-looking enclosure that protects restoration activities.
The most interesting aspect of the design is that the box not only plays the role of a protective shell for the Hill House but also creates a sort of temporary museum, which permits access to the building during the conservation works, allowing visitors to appreciate the house from unorthodox points of view. This unique approach by the National Trust for Scotland has transformed conservation works into an opportunity to engage the public, attract new types of visitors, and offer an unusual architectural experience of the Hill House.



Carmody Groarke, The Hill House Box

This temporary structure consists of a galvanized steel frame and an enclosure of stainless steel mesh. The steel frame is bolted on-site rather than welded, to eliminate fire risk to the heritage asset and for reuse at the end of the project.
The structure touches the ground as little as possible, keeping intact Mackintosh’s terraced landscape on both sides of the enclosure.
The frame supports a corrugated steel roof that protects the house from 95% of rainfall while the chainmail façade allows the passage of air, sunlight, and bees so that the plants in the garden can continue to flourish. The visitor center built next to the house is prefabricated entirely from Scottish FSC timber, giving the project a total embodied carbon rate of 470.1 kgCO2e/m2, nearly a third of a typical cultural project. Following completion of the conservation works, the ‘box’ and visitor center will be removed and reused elsewhere.






Carmody Groarke, The Hill House Box
images courtesy of Carmody Groarke / Eu Mies Award


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