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The first portion is a work full of figurative

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The first portion is a work full of figurative openings constructed by a very youngarchitect who, for details related to construction, had to be assisted by Keppie. Theproject is striking for the simplicity and functionality of its interior spaces, theattention to detail, managed with skill though without affectation, and for theintroduction of modern technical devices such as centralised heating and forcedventilation.The building is characterised by an elegant elevation in which stone and glassalternate in a refined play of symmetry and asymmetry, and between solidity andtransparency. The plastic values of the project are reinforced by a number ofcarefully calibrated projections: the bay window of the guardhouse and the secondfloor toilet and, finally, the small tower. The balcony, which ties these elements
15together, emphasises the entrance to the building and determines a visual gapbetween the verticality of the sequence of chiaroscuro that is counterbalancedagainst the horizontal.For its completion between 1907-09, Mackintosh pulled the elevation back,removing it from the play of proportions established in the earlier façade. He leftthe east elevation unaltered, already fully completed during the first phase andcharacterised by a syncopated alternation of openings with a Romanesque flavour.Instead, he concentrated on the southwest node, where he planned the space ofthe library. He inserted a plastic element in the form of a tower, an architecturalreference of significant urban value, clearly visible also from the streets below; atthe attic level he created a glazed walkway that overlooks the roofs of the entirecity. The result: Glasgow can be viewed from the Glasgow School and the GlasgowSchool can be viewed from Glasgow.To identify the ideal prism of the tower and render it more slender using ascendingribs, Mackintosh invented a system of tall windows that run along the length of themain construction, defining a unitary volume and, at the same tie, articulating itas a sum of prismatic buttresses that lift the building upward. One side – the west– is dominated by projections: three full height windows that ideally convergetoward the tympanum of the roof that, however, is set back from the plane of thefaçade. On the other side – the south – the wall mass is carved out at its centreand the full height window is created as if in the negative. The landmark role ofthe tower is reinforced by semi-circular niches to create a strong plastic energy.The reference is to Michelangelo, whose work left Mackintosh in awe during histravels to Italy in 1891, as evidenced in his sketchbooks.The interior of the library recalls instead the fluid spatiality of Japanesearchitecture. Its simplicity and calibrated luminosity make it one of the mosteffective documents of contemporary architecture. It is a text dense withpromises, though unfortunately without a follow-up.

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