Riverside Museum, Glasgow

Proud heritage reflected in water, steel and glass

“It's been over three years in the making, but I think the design is ambitious and a truly remarkable addition for the city,” explains BAM Construction Manager Jim Ward, responsible for delivering the £74m Riverside Transport Museum in Glasgow. 

The city’s worldwide reputation – and seafaring history – was forged on the banks of the Clyde, so it is a fitting venue for a visionary museum that reflects Glasgow’s shipbuilding past and anchors the city’s future waterfront regeneration.

The river that gave the world the QEII is now home to another innovative and cutting-edge creation in steel.

Project details

  • Customer: Glasgow City Council
  • Architect: Zaha Hadid
  • Project manager: Capita Symonds
  • Quantity surveyor: Capita Symonds
  • Structural engineer: Buro Happold
  • M&E services engineer: Buro Happold
  • Completion date: December 2010

View related projects

First Fact icon project designed by Zaha Hadid built in the UK
24,000 Fact icon zinc panels were used to clad the zig-zag roof
1.2 Fact icon kilometres of service tunnels under the building
4,500 Fact icon metres³ of concrete poured during the works

New wave

The iconic structure is architect Zaha Hadid’s interpretation of Glasgow’s seafaring past.

Exhibition spaces, a café and retail and education areas are split over two floors, housed beneath a self-supporting and unique geometric shape.

A rippling zinc structure sits atop a steel frame, representing a wave, or pleat: transition zones are formed where the structure ‘turns’. Glazed facades face the city in one direction and the riverfront in the other.

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 on projects as diverse as the Millennium Dome and Pink Floyd concerts.

Designed to work

Function is key, and the design allows for plenty of free-flowing space. The huge, open exhibition hall holds over 3,000 exhibits, including the tall ship Glenlee. Two dedicated education spaces are partitioned from the rest of the building.

In 2013 the Riverside won the European Museum of the Year Award. It was also one of ten on the long list (along with three others built by BAM) for the UK’s Museum of the Year 2012.