Thursday, June 12, 2014

Permutations and combinations

At the LRB, Gavin Stamp has an interesting piece on Mackintosh and the destruction by fire of the library at the Glasgow School of Art (gated for subscribers):
The dramatic west front, with its towering oriels, is an abstracted Tudor composition which, as John Summerson pointed out, may owe something to the central reference library in Bristol designed by a distinguished but less applauded English near contemporary, Charles Holden. But there was no precedent for the extraordinary library space behind those tall metal oriels.

The library was at once very practical and very strange. Made entirely of dark timber, it was dominated by tall square piers rising from floor to ceiling which supported the balcony running around the room on all four sides. The piers were placed far in front so as to be conspicuous. Was the idea of a Forest of Knowledge in Mackintosh’s mind, in which symbolism was so important? Oddest, and most personal of all, were the timber pendants on the balcony front, each with what might be hanging tassels, but with little ovals, like bubbles, in the gaps. Each one was slightly different.

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