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Glasgow Seaplane Terminal and Hotel

Part 2 Project 2008
Nick Crawford
Mackintosh School of Architecture | UK
Glasgow has the first seaplane service in Europe to operate from a city centre, linking to towns and islands on the west coast. The project proposes a move downstream from Pacific Quay to Central Station, and an increase in flight frequency and destinations. Passengers can access the terminal from the Central Station platform or from the other nearby transport interchanges. The project includes a 100 room 5-star hotel in order to maximise the site’s unique location and to act as a beacon.

The building is a bridge. A steel footbridge and a concrete frame.

Existing granite piers are used to support a new linking footbridge which spans across the river. The footbridge passes beneath the bulk of the hotel allowing views up into the full-height atrium, which soars above the river, taking advantage of the unique and uninterrupted views around Glasgow. The bridge continues down to the terminal platforms, which unfold beneath the bridge towards the water, always allowing passengers and passers-by to see the planes coming and going beneath the bridges and along the water.


Due to the proximity of the terminal to its users, transport by Seaplane uses less energy in total than car, bus or chartered flight for short journeys. They do not require tarmac runways, do not leave residue in the water, and have relatively low emissions.

The river is used in part to manage the environment within the hotel, through the use of an open loop heat pump system. Water is pumped up to the plant room though the cores to a heat exchanger, which converts the low amount of heat stored in the river water into usable hot water. A CHP boiler adds to this system, whilst providing an efficient method of generating electricity for the building. Building-integrated photovoltaics on the south facade and roof take advantage of the building’s location to generate power, whilst also providing solar shading.

A double-skin façade provides a sustainable way of heating and cooling the building, providing natural ventilation, shading the spaces and providing acoustic protection.

Nick Crawford

The proposal harks back to a bygone age of bespoke travel, when flying was an intimate and thrilling experience. It also considers the potential for a sustainable and integrated transport system within today’s compact city. Using the impetus of a genuine flying boat service recently established in Glasgow’s city centre, the building aims to anticipate and provide the needs of the modern traveller, while considering how it should contribute to the cityscape.

Situated on the Clyde at one of the key crossing points, and in part reusing the redundant bridge structure, the building heightens the intensity of traffic marking the intersection of the river, rail and road arteries, offering multiple opportunities for travellers, passers by and tourists alike.

Though seaplanes are by no means a new technology, there has been an increased interest in them in recent years due to the advantages they have over traditional aircraft, as they require limited infrastructure (ie no run-ways) and have the potential to be located in the heart of any city containing an expanse of water.

The tower, housing a hotel, provokes considers what density of development the rivers edge demands and can sustain, while providing the opportunity of dramatic views west to the river, the sea beyond and the spectacle of the boat planes and their intricate flight paths.

The Hotel became the main focus of the thesis, located in a unique position as it straddles the Clyde (where it connects directly to the sea-planes and to Central Station) and is therefore driven by unique structural and environmental parameters as well as its symbolic significance as a 'gateway' to the city (as it sits alongside the main train tracks into Glasgow).

The proposal developed both a believable and intriguing structural and environmental solution in response to the uniqueness of the site, and in so doing, makes a powerful statement on the River Clyde.

Mr Alexander Page
• Page Hits: 10605         • Entry Date: 10 September 2008         • Last Update: 16 September 2008