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Restored Mackintosh tea rooms win top built environment awards

Mackintosh at the Willow in Glasgow was restored in a £10 million project.

Mackintosh at the Willow was named Project of the Year at the RICS Awards 2019 (Jane Barlow/PA)
Mackintosh at the Willow was named Project of the Year at the RICS Awards 2019 (Jane Barlow/PA)

The restored Mackintosh-designed Willow tea rooms in Glasgow have won two leading awards for built environment projects.

Mackintosh at the Willow in Glasgow won the Building Conservation category before being named Project of the Year, Scotland, at the RICS Awards 2019.

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the tea rooms reopened last summer following a £10 million restoration.

RICS judges said that incredible care was taken to preserve original features and to faithfully recreate original furniture and fitments through detailed research and use of local artisans and craftsmen.

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Judges praised the care taken to preserve original features and recreate original furniture (Jane Barlow/PA)

Other winning projects included the Queensferry Crossing, which won the Infrastructure category, and V&A Dundee which took the prize for Tourism and Leisure.

Commenting on Mackintosh at the Willow’s win, Colin Smith, chairman of the judging panel for the awards, said: “Great care and attention to detail was taken during this restoration.

“Additionally, a Trust was established to manage the building and the £10 million used to restore it internally and externally has also been utilised to provide wider long-term community benefits.”

He added: “A diverse range of innovative projects, of all sizes and budgets, made the shortlist this year and the winners are truly representative of Scotland’s best and most innovative built projects that are having a significant positive impact on their communities.

“The teams behind these winning projects should be very proud of their exceptional achievements.”

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VandA Dundee won the Tourism and Leisure category (Jane Barlow/PA)

Celia Sinclair, founder and chairwoman of the Willow Tea Room Trust, said: “We are delighted to accept the award for ‘Project of the Year 2019’.

“We have worked hard over the last four years to bring this incredible building back to life, a place where people can enjoy fine food in the original Mackintosh interior of 1903 at the restored ‘Mackintosh at the Willow’ and also learn more about the life of Mackintosh and his benefactor Miss Cranston in our visitor and education centre. This award is for everyone who has been involved in the project.”

The tea rooms in the A-listed property first opened in 1903 and are of international significance as they are the only surviving tea rooms where Mackintosh had complete control over the architecture and interior decorations, including the design of furniture, cutlery and waitress uniforms.

The Garment Factory in Glasgow won the commercial category while The Playfair at Donaldson’s, Edinburgh won the prize for the residential sector.

Other winners were the Music Hall in Aberdeen, The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience at Charlestown of Aberlour and the West Dunbartonshire Council Dumbarton Office.

All category winners will go on to compete against other regional winners at the national RICS Awards Grand Final on Friday October 4 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, for the chance to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category.

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