Mackintosh at the Willow




ARCHITECTURE: Re-use of Listed Building


Simpson & Brown


Willow Tea Rooms Trust


This project was centred around Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Willow Tea Rooms in 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  An A-listed building of the greatest significance for Scotland’s design heritage and recognised internationally as the only surviving Tea Rooms designed entirely by Mackintosh.  Complex issues incorporating artefacts and access in a restricted city centre site had to be addressed.  The acquisition of 215 Sauchiehall Street, the B-listed building next door to the Willow Tea Rooms, provided the necessary space to accommodate the requirements for a world class visitor experience: shop, education and conference space, interpretation centre, and access facilities.  Links are provided at each level in a way which allows full communication for visitors and staff, but keeps the appearance of the Tea Rooms as a discrete historic entity.

The Tea Rooms have been faithfully restored to how Mackintosh intended them when they were opened in 1903, and include over 400 pieces of specifically commissioned furniture which match the Mackintosh design exactly.  The interactive exhibition area tells the story of Glasgow in the early 1900s at a time of social change, the growth of the tea houses, and the collaboration between Miss Kate Cranston, the client, and architect designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.