1st Edition

The Victorian Art School Architecture, History, Environment

By Ranald Lawrence Copyright 2021
    226 Pages 137 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 137 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Victorian Art School documents the history of the art school in the nineteenth century, from its origins in South Kensington to its proliferation through the major industrial centres of Britain. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, together with earlier examples in Manchester and Birmingham demonstrate an unprecedented concern for the provision of plentiful light and air amidst the pollution of the Victorian city. As theories of design education and local governance converged, they also reveal the struggle of the provincial city for cultural independence from the capital.

    Examining innovations in the use of new technologies and approaches in the design of these buildings, The Victorian Art School offers a unique and explicitly environmental reading of the Victorian city. It examines how art schools complemented civic ‘Improvement’ programmes, their contribution to the evolution of art pedagogy, the tensions that arose between the provincial schools and the capital, and the role they would play in reimagining the relationship between art and public life in a rapidly transforming society.

    The architects of these buildings synthesised the potential of art with the perfection of the internal environment, indelibly shaping the future cultural life of Britain.

    1. Introduction

    The Environment of the City

    Urban Improvement

    A Municipal Awakening

    2. ‘By the Gains of Industry we Promote Art’: New schools for design

    Lighting in the Early Academies

    The Department of Science and Art

    The Culture of the Artisan

    3. A worthy facade: Manchester School of Art

    The Condition of Manchester

    Fine Art or Design?

    Who Pays?

    A Spacious Site

    Galleries and Studios

    4. ‘Drawn from the light’: Birmingham School of Art

    Chamberlain and the Civic Gospel

    The Value of Culture

    The Industrial Patronage of Art Education

    The Influence of Ruskin

    The Evolution of the Design

    The School’s Influence

    5. Into clean air: Glasgow School of Art

    ‘Let Art Flourish’

    Realising the Ideal Environment

    Lighting, Ventilation and Warming

    A Formal Synthesis

    A Microcosm of the City

    6. ‘Local centres of civilisation’: The art school in context

    Parting the Smoke

    The Civilising Power of Art

    Culture as a Civic Project

    Dissolving into Light and Air

    Unifying Art and Design

    Concluding Remarks




    Ranald Lawrence is a Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Liverpool. His research examines the history of environmental design, and the broader relationship between buildings and climate in different cultural contexts. Ranald has worked with several award-winning architectural practices as a designer and researcher. He completed his PhD research on Victorian art schools at the University of Cambridge, funded by the AHRC.

    "In this rich study of the art school buildings built in the problematic urban microclimates of the three greatest Victorian cities, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, Ranald Lawrence adds a significant new dimension to our understanding of the architecture of that time." - Dean Hawkes, Emeritus Professor, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff, and Darwin College, Cambridge

    "Lawrence’s book is an impressive and erudite new insight into a period that still has technical and cultural relevance for architects and others working in the field of the built environment." - Professor Colin Porteous OBE, Glasgow School of Art