"Giant chainmail box" used to dry out house slowly dissolving in Scottish rain

Originally published at: "Giant chainmail box" used to dry out house slowly dissolving in Scottish rain | Boing Boing


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I assume this post has been prompted by Thom Scott’s recent video on Youtube. I always like his videos - they really do provide an excellent summary of so many things and places. Just up the road from the house mentioned in this video is another concrete masterpiece with its own conservation problems about which he previously made another video.

I do wish he’d mentioned the architects of this ingenious structure, though: Carmody Groarke. Some lovely shots on their site.

All in all it’s been a tough decade on some of Mackintosh’s most significant works. Poor old Hill House almost dissolved, and the Glasgow School Of Art burned down twice.


The drying will take 15 years.

Answer Waiting GIF


I won’t be here of course but I wonder what people 100 years from now will decide what’s worth saving from the last 5 or 10 years.

A time machine would be handy.


It is surprising that they had to construct that chainmail by hand linking each ring; I would think there would be some sort of industrial, commercial, or even residential market for a mass produced breathable wall that stops rain from blowing through. A hybrid between the splatter screen that I use when frying food, and the chain that channels rain down from the downspouts.

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The easy starting place is architectural awards, I suppose.

Here’s RIBA’s selection for 2021, for instance which, of course, includes this temporary structure. (Even if temporary, I’m glad it’s appreciated)

The harder question is: which constructions have gone up that will be hugely valued in a hundred years but which are not impressing anyone today? Look to the industrial buildings, I suspect. They can often include a degree of imagination and novelty which is too-easily overlooked.


Well, it’s a new idea. Maybe in the future there will be a commercial product?


Indeed, that’s one of Thom’s video. Watched it yesterday. His feed is always full of fascinating things and I love hearing his thoughts.


And I’ll never have that recipe again…


It is surprising how people assume that no one involved in the project had any common sense about looking at options and determining cost effectiveness. Rain chains are too big, splatter screens are too small.

It is probably too big for an off-the-shelf solution and also too small for a custom made industrial solution. And since it is the National Trust of Scotland, I wouldn’t be surprised if their purchasing process prioritizes local suppliers rather than using Chinese factories.


This is interesting and all, but I want to know if, within, walls continue upright; bricks meet nearly; floors are firm; and doors are sensibly shut. Most importantly, if you go walking inside, do you have to walk alone?

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I feel like there is a good chance you’d want to keep that box forever. Historical architecture is nice, but historical architecture in a one-of-a-kind chainmail shed with walkways all around - that’s exciting stuff. I’m excited for the project in 20 years to protect the chainmail shed with a larger chainmail shed.


I visited it about 3 years ago (yes, the chainmail was in place then) and wandering around inside the house was a delight. It all seemed in good condition indoors. And the external structure afforded an opportunity to see parts of the outside close-up, too. Some external parts were not looking so great.

(And having been there, when I saw the headline I was immediately interested, but read the headline as: Giant chainmail box used to dry out house is slowly dissolving in Scottish rain (given the conventions of headline grammar this seemed the correct reading - and I assumed this article was some new news and not a report of something much older) and I was very concerned that maybe the SNT had discovered a flaw in the metal used for the chainmail. Of course the headline really meant: Giant chainmail box allows house slowly dissolving in Scottish rain to dry out)


I don’t know for sure, but I do now suspect the ‘fully linked by hand’ thing might be a slight misrepresentation. This site includes the following description:

“The chain mail was assembled first in sheets. These were then sewn together on site with wire—not welded, which presented a fire risk.”

‘Sewing’ things together with wire like that is an interesting and sensible detail, and certainly worth mentioning, but perhaps the whole process lost a little clarity in the retelling. I assume the sheets themselves were assembled through an industrial process. A little more Googling points me towards Alphamesh, who claim they produced sheets of Alphmesh 12 for the project. And yeah, I very much doubt that every single link was done by hand.


Well, I was going to re-side my home with traditional materials now I am having thoughts…

What can’t one throw in chain mail houses?


Came for the crumbling Mackintosh house story, stayed for Rachel Thompson’s accent.


Well, if you do that, you definitely should throw a party!


My experience with laundry suggests it will probably take even longer to get the mildew smell out.


We normally get Craig. Wherever we go.