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22 Jan 2019

Work begins to build the Hill House Box

A man wearing a white hard hat and a yellow hi-vis jacket stands holding very wide architectural plans. Behind him are steel beams and a scaffold-like structure on its side.
Richard Williams, General Manager for Glasgow and West at the National Trust for Scotland, with the newly arrived steel beams at the Hill House
After the arrival of a 100 tonne mobile tower crane in the early hours of this morning (Monday 21 January), the first steel beams of the Box that will protect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House from driving rain and wind were lowered into place.

These beams will form the frame to carry the innovative chainmail shield to create the Hill House Box, which will allow the building to dry out after years of disintegration.

The Box is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s pioneering plan to save the Hill House, Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece. Preliminary sitework began in November 2018, with two months of preparation for the installation of the steel frame of the structure.

Once the frame is complete, the Helensburgh landmark will be surrounded by a fine perforated mesh, designed by award-winning architects Carmody Groarke.

Since it was built over a century ago, the Hill House has been absorbing the rain, putting the building and its unique interiors at risk. The semi-permanent enclosure will provide shelter to the house, letting it dry out and allowing for further conservation work to take place.

As well as protecting the building from the weather, the Hill House Box will give visitors the chance to get a new perspective on the house from elevated walkways looping around the building, and see conservation work in action.

The house and gardens will be closed to the public during the construction of the Box – being carried out by Robertson – but we expect to reopen in late spring this year.

A view of diggers and building works in the Hill House grounds, seen through a window of the Hill House.
Site preparation work is well underway at the Hill House

Richard Williams, General Manager for Glasgow and West at the National Trust for Scotland, said: ‘Seeing the Box take shape is an extraordinary feeling and a significant milestone in our charity’s rescue effort to save the Hill House. After years of planning we can really start to see the scale of what we’re doing here, for the love of the building and where it stands in the history of Scottish architecture.’

The team at the Hill House would like to thank the thousands of people who donated to save this iconic Mackintosh building. Our Box the Hill House Appeal launched in February last year to urgently raise the funds to build the Box, and we’ve been astonished and delighted by the response from Mackintosh-, design- and heritage-lovers from Scotland and all around the world. From everyone at the National Trust for Scotland, thank you.

We hope everyone who donated will come to see the Hill House Box when it opens later this year, and enjoy this unique conservation project for themselves.

So far, £1.2 million has been raised, with fundraising continuing for the final £300,000 of the target.

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