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Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow: Colour coded Inside and Out

The summer of 2011 saw the opening of Glasgow’s Riverside Museum of Transport, and in May 2012 it received the ‘European Museum Academy Micheletti Award’ in recognition of its status as ‘the most innovative museum for technology, work and social history.’ This development was the first major public building contract won by Zaha Hadid in Great Britain, where she now resides. The building is clearly in her personal style — a combination of powerful zigzag and sweeping contours — and now stands as an important landmark in Glasgow Harbour, once the vital location for shipyards and busy port traffic. The hope is that the new museum will form a link to Glasgow’s maritime history and engender new life in the old quayside areas, much of which is in disuse. The historic three-mast steel-hulled barque Glenlee sailing ship is anchored in the River Clyde in front

The Riverside Museum skyline is rather like the letter Z turned on its side, with the edge right on the outer margin of the site. The museum has a 36-metre glass façade to the river, with the zigzag roofline not unlike waves on the water. The windows are darkened to protect the exhibits from solar glare, yet reflect the local environment, the shimmering silver roof seeming almost to blend with the sky. The roof construction follows a gentle, wavy, partly angular line. The height and width of the individual roof sections vary along the entire length of the structure. A cut-edge ridge crowns the pointed roof. Zaha Hadid: “The most important thing is the overall flow – the flow of things, the non-Euclidian geometry – in which nothing is repeated; in brief, a reordering of the space.”

The museum also houses a cafeteria. ‘Twin’ chairs were selected for the outside areas – a robust item suitable for contract applications. This plastic-coated steel chair is from Brunner: fresh, lightweight and in youthful design and cast in a single unique style, it harmonises ideally with the technical ambience embodied in the museum. The Twin is finished in apple green, following the colour scheme systematically used inside the museum – from the lime-green hall to the luminescent green stairs, through to the many details presented in a wide variety of green tones. The multi-functional and weather-resistant all-round Twin chair was designed by Archirivolto, and in April was chosen for inclusion in Die Neue Sammlung (‘new collection’) – one of the biggest museums of industrial and product design.

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