AN architect has sparked controversy by suggested Glasgow School of Art should be expanded onto the site of the former O2 ABC music venue.

Barry Wark has created a speculative design for a rebuild of the world-famous building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which has been ravaged by two fires in 2014 and 2018.

The 33-year-old, who is originally from Glasgow but now lives in London, has kept the facade of the celebrated 'Mack' building but has added gardens and a public events space.

Some have argued that the restoration project should not go ahead because of the multi-million pound costs associated with the project, instead calling for something else to be created for the people of Glasgow.

Glasgow Times:

The new director of GSoA, Penny Macbeth, has suggested she is not in favour of a complete restoration.

Ultimately, the architect hopes the project will stimulate further debate not only about the art school’s future but also about protecting Glasgow’s architectural heritage.

He said: “We’ve seen more and more of our architectural heritage destroyed and there are some other buildings in the city that are rotting away.

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“This building was probably the most influential for me as a Glaswegian growing up and to see that husk sitting there with no thought of what to do with it... I just had this urge to try to do something that would, I hope, encourage a bit of positive debate, not only what should happen to the building itself but as a comment on how great the architecture of Glasgow is.

“Outside of George Square, Glasgow does not really have that many public spaces for such a European city, so the idea is you would have this semi indoors outdoors place that was an arts focused space. I think it could really offer something to the city.

“The idea is you could appreciate the facade and history of the Mackintosh building in a more honest way but, at the same time, be in this public space.”

Glasgow Times:

However, the design may not win the approval of those who are happy the former O2 ABC music venue is being re-built as the extension takes over the entire site, stretching down to Sauchiehall Street.

He said: “This is another building that was a massive part of my youth. I used to go to concerts and club nights there.

Glasgow Times:

“Whether there is much architectural merit in reconstructing that... If you take this whole block and turn it into a public space, it could act as a positive reminder to lets look after what we have today.”

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In response to the design, a spokesman for the O2 ABC said plans remain to create a ‘world-class” music venue on the site.

Meanwhile, Mr Wark, who combines an architectural practice with teaching at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London, hopes his project will spark debate.

He said: “ If the outcome of doing this proposal is that it wound people up  so much they really got behind the restoration of the building, then as far as I’m concerned I’ve done something positive.”