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The Riverside Museum of Transport

This is one of those iconic modern buildings that grows on you. Iconic in the sense that it stands as a readily recognised image. A design that has its own uniqueness and becomes a symbol of what it stands for. In this case it stands as a museum of transport and indirectly also for the city of Glasgow. As a building to serve a purpose, one can criticise its ability to work well as a museum, but as an unique architectural creation it is highly successful.

It was created by the internationally lauded architect Zaha Hadid. Nearby across the Clyde are shipbuilding sheds with roofscapes of different spans and heights that are very likely to have inspired that of this building. One can imagine Zaha Hadid arriving here with a sketch pad or, most likely, a tablet, and quickly sketching that nearby roof and then developing the theme into what you see today. The effect is almost a cartoon of a shipbuilding facility. Taking this further, it appears that this diagram was transferred to a folded piece of stiff paper to see how it could be manipulated. Looking at the architectural practice's website, we get an idea of further inspiration. The museum, a sectional extrusion open at both ends, its outline encapsulating a wave or pleat, flows from the city to waterfront, symbolising a relationship between Glasgow and the ship-building, seafaring and industrial legacy of the river Clyde....

Architecture has developed visual language through the ages and we find features from ancient Greek buildings reappearing through the quite recent times. As technique and technology have developed they have freed us from forms so dependent on gravity and embellishment straight from art. Today we may find the added embellishment fussy. We no longer need symbolism in the form of added sculpture. The building itself can be sculptural and, in tune with modern sensibilities, abstract. What you read into the form of such building is up to you and this one is certainly open to interpretation.

My photograph shows the undulating façade from the opposite bank of the Clyde through the rigging of the tall ship, The Glenlee. The juxtaposition of roofscape and rigging seem well in tune with each other.



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