Technology Aids Conservation at Hill House
Box The Hill House
The Hill House is regarded as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s greatest domestic architecture achievement. Despite its innovative design, the cement render used in its construction did not withstand Scotland’s rainy west coast weather and it put the entire structure at risk.
To address this issue, The National Trust for Scotland undertook a bold and innovative conservation effort that ‘boxed’ the Hill House. This involved creating a steel frame around the property which could support a mesh barrier. The semi-permeable mesh cage protects the house from the elements while allowing the property to dry in a natural and gradual way.
Thanks to the support of many generous donors, including National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA donors, sufficient 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 over 36,000 visitors. New sight-lines are possible from the upper level walkways that form part of the Box construction. Visitors also experience a living conservation project in action.
Collaborative Conservation in Action
Now that the Hill House is protected from further deterioration the Trust has recommenced its collaborative work with Historic Environment Scotland. The outcome of this partnership is a comprehensive digital, thermographic, and microwave moisture survey of the building.
The digital findings can be used to assess the environmental damage so far, and to inform the future conservation planning process of the Hill House. The impact of climate change is an increasingly urgent issue when it comes to protecting properties across the Trust; resources required for improving drainage, and tackling damp have seen a marked increase. By digitally mapping the Hill House the Trust can plot and share findings as part of the conservation plan. For example, any repair strategy of the Hill House will encompass a change in ventilation and heating methods, and a potential solution can be modeled and developed via this digital tool.
Web-based 3D models, animations, and virtual reality tours are all being considered as means of innovative interpretation and compelling storytelling. This also means that US enthusiasts can enjoy Mackintosh’s remarkable design from home. The Trust will complete the final deliverables as part of the conservation plan once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Originally, a completion date was scheduled for the early months of 2021. It is likely to now shift to later in the year.
Watch the short film at the end of this article for even more information about this exciting collaboration between Historic Environment Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland.
Mackintosh at Home
The Trust is offering fun and creative ways for you to enjoy Scotland’s heritage from home. Budding architects, like our friend Jamey (seen pictured), can follow in the footsteps of the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh by building their own Hill House with LEGO® bricks.
This Limited Edition model kit comprises more than 300 bricks including an exclusive Hill House printed tile, as well as step-by-step instructions.
How You Can Help
Americans can play a critical role to ensure the future of Scotland’s past during this uncertain time. The best way to protect Scotland’s places is by making a tax-deductible donation to NTSUSA. Your donation can be restricted to your favorite property – like Hill House! – or directed to wherever the Trust needs it most.