Conservation in Action at Hill House
The Hill House’s innovative look relied on cutting-edge construction techniques, but the materials have not withstood Scotland’s rainy west coast weather and the entire structure in now at risk.
To address this critical issue, the National Trust for Scotland undertook a bold and innovative conservation effort: “boxing” the Hill House. This involved the creation of a semi-permeable mesh cage protects the house from the elements while allowing the house to dry in a natural and gradual way.
Thanks to the support of many generous donors, including The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, significant funds were raised to begin taking action to protect this magnificent building. On June 1, 2019, the finished Box was opened to the public, and since then the Trust has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors. New sight-lines are possible from the upper level walkways that form part of the Box’s construction, offering views and insights that have never been seen before – even by Mackintosh himself. This structure, along with a new visitor center, delivers a unique heritage experience of a living conservation project in action.
The Box and the research and work it is enabling is extraordinary. We are monitoring all changes, internally and with key partners, including the Getty Conservation Institute and Historic Environment Scotland, to determine where the decreasing moisture levels are impacting original design features. These areas – particularly the entrance hall wallpaper – require immediate conservation intervention.
We also have identified an opportunity to share more about conservation techniques and challenges on-site via interpretation that describes the purpose and impact of The Box, which intrigues visitors nearly as much as Mackintosh’s iconic design.
From grand cliff-side estates to the humble cottage where Robert Burns was born – the Trust cares for some of Scotland’s most special places. Our architectural holdings are diverse and preservation projects cover a range of interests. Contact Kirstin Bridier at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about all our current architectural heritage initiatives.