Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum

Last week I visited the Riverside Museum in Glasgow that was designed by Zaha Hadid and is Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel. The building is in full harmony with its industrial, urban context and although it only opened for the public about a year ago, it looks like it has been there for a long time.

Most of the interior surfaces are painted in a bright lime colour, which was a very brave choice for an exhibition space but somehow it works because it truly highlights the exhibits and gives the interior a lot of character. There is a lot of natural light entering the interior space from both glazed ends of the building and the  smaller glass openings, which are strategically placed around the envelop in order to frame some amazing views of the Clyde and of the city of Glasgow.

The interior space is rather overwhelming at first because there are too many large scale exhibits in an open plan space but once you starting moving around and focus on particular exhibits you’ll start ignoring your peripheral vision. There is an area inside the museum that has been transformed to look like a street from the early 20th century. It certainly feels like a time travelling experience to be in a Zaha Hadid, contemporary architecture building but at the same time walk around a street from the last century.

The sleek signage graphics, which were designed by Marque, have a dotted theme that works very well with the building as it matches the textured “dotted” interior wall surfaces.

I would definitely recommend a visit, especially with your little ones as there were a lot of excited children around, who seemed to enjoy themselves both inside the museum and outside where there was some huge grass furniture to climb on as well as an ice cream van…

The exterior

Zaha Hadid_Riverside_1    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_2

Zaha Hadid_Riverside_4    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_3

The interior

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Zaha Hadid_Riverside_7    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_8

Zaha Hadid_Riverside_11    Zaha Hadid_Riverside _10

The exhibits

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Zaha Hadid_Riverside_15    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_14

Zaha Hadid_Riverside_16    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_17

Zaha Hadid_Riverside_18    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_19

The graphics

Zaha Hadid_Riverside_21    Zaha Hadid_Riverside_20

Zaha Hadid_Riveriside_23    Zaha Hadid_Riveriside_22

Two Captains Will Sink The Ship

image via: londonist

A few days ago the London architectural practice Grimshaw completed the restoration of Cutty Sark, the iconic tea clipper that has massively defined British culture and history. The project is located in Greenwich and it involved restoring the vessel’s deck and rigging as well as raising the entire ship three meters above ground, in order to create an underground exhibition space below it. Cutty Sark is on the Core Collection of the National Historic Ships Register, which is equivalent to it being a Grade I listed building. Similarly to most projects that involve historic or symbolic elements, the Cutty Sark restoration has raised a great deal of controversy.

As I have yet to visit the project my opinion can only rely on photographs and I have to say that it looks great from the inside but too bizarre from the outside. The glass canopy is dwarfed by the massive ship and therefore she looks too static and almost asphyxiated. The canopy was installed to protect the lower part of the ship and let visitors walk beneath the hull.  Effectively, the ship is used as a roofing element to an interior space that does look striking; observing a ship from such an unusual angle offers a very stirring experience.

Even though the project has received a few praising remarks, which described the design as “sensational”, “simply stunning” as well as “a neatly choreographed landscape of British power”, the general consensus of online comments is rather negative. In The Guardian the project was described as a “bizarre hybrid”, while the editor of Building Design wondered if the ship would have had a nobler end “if the Cutty Sark had sunk”. Also, the editor of Classic Boat magazine described the project as being equivalent with “putting heritage in aspic”. He also suggested that she should have been repaired and sailed around the globe as an ambassador for Britain.

Although conservation groups have in the past criticized the canopy for obscuring the lines of the hull, the negative criticism became thunderous only after the building’s official opening. It is quite peculiar that such strong criticism on the design was not expressed when the drawings of the project were unveiled or before the construction started. One of the great advantages of 3d visualization drawings is that anyone can understand what the building is going to look like, even without knowing how to read architectural drawings.

Therefore it is not only the design of the building that disneyfied a British symbol in order to create a spectacle but its criticism as well. The project had two aims: firstly to respect the history, symbolism and tradition of Cutty Sark and secondly, to use the ship for creating a landmark that would attract visitors. The first aim usually requires discreet and quiet design gestures whereas the second one usually compels flashy and loud ones. When a design successfully combines these two contradicting gestures, it can result in an architectural work of genius. When the combination of the two does not work well then unfortunately they sink the project…

image via: dezeen

image via: dezeen

image via: dezeen

image via: designweek

Take Your Pleasures Seriously

image via: NEXT Architects

NEXT Architects from Netherlands recently launched The Modern Architecture Game, a board game about trivia on buildings, architects and famous quotes. The design of the game is very sleek and thoughtful: the board has a construction drawing graphic and the player pieces are miniature replicas of contemporary buildings such as the Gherkin.

Apart from its title, the monochromatic design signifies that it is indeed a game made for architects, by architects. There are approximately 1000 questions from six different categories such as Visuals, Architect, Project, Style, Influence and Quote. If someone answers a question wrong then they would have to wear the iconic Le Corbusier glasses.

Although it is a great game for playing in studios on a Friday afternoon, it is only the theme of the questions and its stylish design that truly differentiate it from other trivia board games.  Architects could be developing innovative concepts for games. In fact Scrabble, which is one of the most popular board games of all time, was developed by an architect.

Perhaps the limitations of our physical world have diminished the possibility of new tangible game concepts. However, the advancements in game technology could inspire architects to come up with new game ideas.  The architects’ advanced spatial understanding and their frequent engagement with virtual environments could be the foundation for the creation of very interesting games. What if architects transformed real urban environments into virtual narrative games?  How would holding a Wii affect moving around a real city?

image via: NEXT Architects

image via: NEXT Architects

image via: NEXT Architects

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