Wolf Mangelsdorf on how Buro Happold brought Zaha's Riverside Museum to life
In June 2011, Zaha Hadid’s spiked Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Scotland was completed and Caroline Ednie attended a press conference on the banks of the River Clyde on behalf of WAN. Her report on the transport, engineering and shipbuilding museum sparked a wealth of comments from our readers who were clearly marked into two distinct camps.
Those such as Alex Njoo from St. Kilda in Victoria enthused, ‘If the Glasgow project is anything like the MAXXI, it is certainly a masterpiece to be experienced. I look forward, one day, to visit Hadid’s latest creation’, while others, such as Paulina in London confessed, ‘the building does nothing for me in terms of scale and engagement with the public realm’.
A media onslaught followed and again Hadid split the critics, though little was made of the engineering behind this Z-shaped swerve of zinc. Using Autodesk software international practice Buro Happold brought Hadid’s concept to life, engineering the towering peaks and complex building envelope in Hadid’s daring design.
Drawing from other jagged-roofed warehouses on the industrial site, the zig-zag silhouette of the museum’s roofscape was a challenge for the engineers. An explanation from the firm reads thus: “Buro Happold’s generative geometry group executed variable design options to resolve the geometrical challenges of the building’s envelope. With such complicated free form and challenging structure, it was essential to translate the overall structural and construction parameters into simply defined mathematical terms.
“This has allowed the engineers, architects and contractors to optimise the form for a more feasible and buildable structure. The team used modelling processes mainly depended on the concept of parameterization achieved through algorithmic approach in programming merged with conventional modelling softwares.”
WAN spoke to Wolf Mangelsdorf, Head of Structural Engineering at Buro Happold to discover how the firm used Autodesk software to realise this complex design.