The House That’s Surrounded by Chainmail to Prevent it From Dissolving

The Hill House, in Helensburgh, Scotland, is considered an architectural treasure. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (one of Scotland’s most famous architects), and built in 1902, it used ideas that were decades ahead of their time. One of those experimental ideas turned out to be a huge mistake.

Portland cement was used on the exterior, in a mixture that contained no lime. This has caused the exterior of the building to absorb huge amounts of the rain that constantly falls in this area, the wettest in Scotland, and over the decades, Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece has literally begun to dissolve (“like an aspirin in water”).

To give the building time to dry out so that it can be properly preserved, The National Trust of Scotland came up with an ingenious plan. After a scaffolding was erected around the entire house and a roof put on over it, the walls of the enclosure were built from 30 million chainmail links. This chaimail curtain allows the house and grounds to breathe while the roof keeps the house dry. It will take years for the building to dry out before preservation efforts to take place.


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