The Hill House Box
"This is a project that has been many, many years in the making and it is wonderful to be at the point that we’re now seeing work begin to save such a significant place." Richard Williams, General Manager for Glasgow and West, The National Trust for Scotland
A unique construction and conservation project to protect a key piece of Scotland's cultural heritage.
The Hill House is a Category A Listed building in Helensburgh that was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a well-known Scottish architect, designer, water colourist and artist. Widely regarded as Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece, it is one of few remaining examples of his work and a popular tourist destination in the area, which is owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).
After being exposed to the harsh Scottish weather for over a century, an innovative solution was needed to protect the iconic building, while preservation work can be completed. Our client’s aspirations are not only to preserve this striking building, but to create an inspirational, memorable visitor experience with conservation, heritage, arts and culture at its heart. Delivered through Scape Venture by Robertson, the project forms part of a wider regeneration plan for heritage sites in Scotland, supporting sustainable local economic growth.
After years of absorbing rain and saltwater, The Hill House’s exterior, and parts of its beautiful interior too, are slowly degrading. As a result, NTS needed a bespoke structure to be designed and installed that protects the Hill House from further damage, while delicate conservation and restoration work takes place.
Working onsite with specialist engineers, the Robertson team have installed a unique, semi-permeable chainmail mesh structure, designed by award-winning architects Carmody Groarke.
The client also wanted to include a visitor centre onsite, which celebrates the cultural importance of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the history of the house and the importance of protecting our iconic buildings.
With the protective box firmly in place, this striking building can begin to dry out in a safe environment, whilst still welcoming visitors and members of the local community to enjoy the space.
The house and gardens have now been reopened to the public, complete with new raised walkways around the exterior of the house and over the roof, giving visitors a completely new way of experiencing The Hill House Box and Mackintosh’s design, as well as offering stunning views over the Clyde estuary.
Robertson’s site team worked with care and precision during the project, which was delivered on time and on budget, meeting all key performance measures for community initiatives, waste diversion, training opportunities, job creation and 100% SME engagement.
The project provided a 6-week work placement to William, a military veteran who was medically retired after being injured in Afghanistan, who was subsequently offered a full-time role with Robertson Construction West as a Site Operative.
The project was part of the Build UK Open Doors initiative, a national event designed to raise awareness and improve perceptions of the construction industry through site visits. The event was a great success and acted as a springboard for partnering with NTS volunteers in the local community to host further events, welcoming visitors and encouraging them to learn more about the project and NTS’ wider activities.
Children from a local secondary school, Hermitage High School, were given careers insight sessions and the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of a live construction site.
The team also made weekly foodbank collections and donations to the Helensburgh Foodbank, helping the most disadvantaged members of the community. Additionally, funds are being raised onsite for local charity CHAS, who run a children’s hospice in Balloch, where many of the site team live.
What we’re doing here is a rescue plan for the long term and will, we’re sure, protect this incredible building for future generations.
Richard Williams, General Manager for Glasgow and West, National Trust for Scotland
|Project value:||£3.6 million|
|Sector:||Heritage / Tourism|
|Client satisfaction :||9.3/10|
|Local spend within 40 miles:||81%|
|Local labour within 40 miles:||74%|
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