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Willow Tea Rooms

In 2015 Dress for the Weather, in collaboration with Fiona Sinclair architect, were shortlisted for the refurbishment of The Willow Tea Rooms. The brief was to restore Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s original design for Catherine Cranston’s tea rooms while adding a new interpretation centre to the neighbouring building on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.

On an urban level we explored the new interpretation centre as a ’social exchange’ for the city. Our proposals sought an ‘openess’ to city using literary and fine art works as a generators for architectural proposals. We were also interested in Mackintosh’s use of light and coloured glass as indicators of gendered or public/private spaces.

On a building scale we took a conceptual approach of grids, frames and lattices to define openings between the existing tea rooms and the new interpretation centre as well as building to street. We aimed for a material ‘lightness’ to sit comfortably in close proximity to the original architecture, design and furniture.

We created a set of drawings that documented the various refurbishments and alterations to the building, including Mackintosh’s own ‘false’ facade over the original frontage. These ‘x-ray’ type drawings were also used to inform proposals leading to a layered approach to structure and installations in contrast to planes and solid surfaces.

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