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Riverside Museum, Glasgow


Riverside Museum, Glasgow Riverside Museum, Glasgow - Exterior Riverside Museum, Glasgow - Internal Riverside Museum, Glasgow - Exterior Riverside Museum, Glasgow - Internal Riverside Museum, Glasgow - Exterior (click to enlarge)

Glasgow’s worldwide reputation – and seafaring history – was forged on the banks of the Clyde, so it is a fitting venue for a visionary new museum that reflects Glasgow’s shipbuilding past and anchors the city’s future waterfront regeneration. It is also appropriate that the river that gave the world the QEII should be home to another innovative and cuttingedge creation in steel.

Modern structure reflecting a proud history

This iconic structure is architect Zaha Hadid’s interpretation of Glasgow’s seafaring past. New exhibition spaces, a café and retail and education spaces are split over two floors and a column-free, 50m-wide circulation space are all housed beneath a self-supporting and unique geometric shape. Indeed, perhaps the most exciting elevation of the new museum is from above.

Look and learn

Twisting and curving, a rippling zinc structure sits atop a steel frame, representing a wave, or pleat: transition zones are formed where the structure ‘turns’. Realising this vision demanded a close working relationship between architect, builder and structural engineer. CAD drawings and scaled-down models provided a focus for that vision. Creating this effect required experience in ‘fabric engineering’ and BAM’s contractor forged theirs in projects as diverse as the Millennium Dome and Pink Floyd concerts.


Glazed facades face the city in one direction and the riverfront in the other. Function is key and the design allows for plenty of free-flowing space and two main education spaces are partitioned from the rest of the building. Convex and concave geometric patterns form a locked structure that encapsulates the huge exhibition space, which will hold more than 3,000 exhibits, including the Tall Ship, Glenlee.


  • Three recreated streets covering the periods 1890-1930, 1930-1960 and 1960-1980
  • Dedicated IT stations
  • Displays including subway cars, trams, locomotive footplates, buses and the Tall Ship Glenlee, which will be moored alongside the museum
  • Tactile trails for visually impaired / audio loops / full accessibility

Design Features

  • Steelwork erected in seven phases
  • Openings solar controlled to allow total blackout
  • Two-level, functional, self-supporting design
  • Modernist structure featuring ‘pleated’ design
  • Massive underground trenches for building services


Education | Retail | Mixed development | Health | Office | Leisure | Law and order


Glasgow City Council


Zaha Hadid

Project manager

Capita Symonds

Quantity surveyor

Capita Symonds

Structural engineer

Buro Happold

M&E Services engineer

Buro Happold