From the smooth metallic sheen of the curved and pleated roof, down to the floor designed to take the weight of a steam train, the engineering design for this landmark building has been undertaken with the utmost care by Buro Happold. Creating the spectacular look of the roof is an achievement in itself but many other, well hidden, aspects of this museum required exceptional engineering, even though they will go unnoticed by most visitors.
The architect’s vision for the building interior was for it to be one column-free space to host the contents of Glasgow’s old Museum of Transport. To achieve that, our structural engineers had to come up with a structural support strong enough to hold up the building – and its exceptional roof – but enclosed within its walls. The resulting steelwork solution utilises the folded plate geometry of the roof, translating it into a system of inclined trusses. Taking support off the facades, the side walls and the structurally stiff zones where the roof changes direction, it was possible to minimise the depth of the structure to 700mm. Thus it is hidden within the building shell, a constant 37cm away from the external surface and out of sight for visitors, and providing an exhibition space uninterrupted by vertical supports. The communication of the complex geometry and setting out of the steel structure was a key challenge for the entire team, however 3D modelling was utilised by all of the members for both design development and construction information.
Demands from the architect for unobtrusive building services also required some innovative design work. ‘We reduced the plant room from 30 to 15 per cent of the building’s 11,200m² footprint by working with the conservation team and increasing the usual 1ºC temperature tolerance to 3ºC,’ says Scott Baird, associate director of building services engineering at Buro Happold. The complex geometry meant the air-handling units, chiller and ducts could not be contained within or on top of the roof.
Substantial tunnels, up to 3.5m deep, beneath the floor are the main routes to carry the building services infrastructure such as lighting, heating, security camera and IT cables and pipework. These feed into a discreet rail of services running the length of the museum walls at a height of 6.5m. From behind grilles within the rail comes heated or cooled air, essential to maintaining constant temperature and humidity levels so as to protect the museum’s exhibits and provide a comfortable environment for visitors. Rainwater, collected from the roof and brought inside through a network of pipes, also has to be transmitted through these concealed conduits.
The building’s facade also plays a role beyond its obvious, aesthetic function, contributing to the low energy services strategy. It provides a very low level of air leakage and substantial insulation to reduce extremes of temperature which, in turn, reduces the demand for heating or cooling. The glass facades at the north and south ends of the building are also multi-purpose, letting in as much natural light as possible, but not so much as to damage exhibits, while also containing slender structural elements to help support the roof.
Buro Happold Director Rod Manson says ‘The project has provided an excellent opportunity to develop an integrated sustainable, architectural and engineering solution. The use of the 3D modelling has allowed the form and function to be optimised prior to drawing production and has provided a great opportunity to understand the value of BIM type techniques. The engineering team are tremendously proud of what has been achieved on the project, delivered on time and on budget’.
Glasgow City Council
Zaha Hadid Architects
Services provided by Buro Happold:
Structural Engineering, Building Services Engineering, Civil Engineering, Ground Engineering, Fire Engineering, Acoustic Consultancy and Lighting Consultancy (Happold Lighting)
Press office and practice information at www.burohappold.com
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Tel: +44 (0)1225 320600
Buro Happold is an independent international practice of consulting engineers. Since 1976 we have grown in size and reach to serve public and private clients across a full range of sectors through an international network of 29 offices.
We draw on the multi-disciplinary skills, knowledge and experience of our local experts to design and deliver award winning building, infrastructure and environmental projects that excel for clients, engage with communities and enrich the lives of users.
Sustainability, innovation and holistic consulting are at the heart of everything we do and we are committed to touching the earth lightly. We think harder and are dedicated to addressing the big challenges that face the planet – climate change, population growth and scarcity of natural resources.
Current and recent projects include the Grand Museum of Egypt (Cairo), the Louvre (Abu Dhabi), the Aviva Stadium (Dublin), the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, the King Abdullah Financial District (Riyadh), the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford) and the O2 (London).