V&A Dundee

by | 01. Oct 2018

Cultural | Museum
View of the V&A Dundee from the river. © Hufton+Crow

View of the V&A Dundee from the river. © Hufton+Crow

The V&A Dundee is “the jewel in the crown” of a 30-year long development plan to transform Dundee’s waterfront, situated on the now-demolished Earl Grey Dock. Dundee’s maritime history once played a central role in binding the Scottish city to the rest of the world – now, as Dundee’s industrial era declines, its cultural ambitions swell. Kengo Kuma and Associates have designed a new cultural monument inspired by Scotland’s intimate relationship to nature; specifically, its coastline, which is unsurprising given that the V&A Dundee stands upon the connection between land and water. It is not the first museum to be built in hopes of regenerating a post-industrial city, utilizing beautiful locations and world-renowned architects to springboard cultural attractions into public interest. Whether or not this is a formula that actually works is debatable. Museum-supporters are hopeful for what it can do for the city of Dundee.

View of the river between V&A Dundee 'pyramids'. © Hufton+Crow

View of the river between V&A Dundee ‘pyramids’. © Hufton+Crow

The big idea for V&A Dundee was bringing together nature and architecture, and to create a new living room for the city…I hope the museum can change the city and become its centre of gravity.
/ Kengo Kuma

Not only is the V&A Dundee the first V&A outpost outside of London, it is also Scotland’s first design museum and Kengo Kuma’s first building in the UK. Three big cultural “firsts” pointing towards the city of Dundee, which museum-supporters are hoping will put Dundee on the map, so to speak. Five-hundred thousand people are expected to visit the design museum in the first year, with numbers dropping to around 350,000 per year thereafter. It is evident that there are hopes for the V&A Dundee to become the city’s new icon; John Alexander, leader of Dundee’s city council, already claims that ‘[The] people of this city see this institution and this museum as theirs.’ However, collecting an entire city under one icon, especially a novel one, is an ambitious task. The final budget of £80.11 million is almost double the original prediction of £45 million, spurring anti-austerity campaigners to protest and boycott their newly proclaimed monument.   

Exterior view of the cliff-like form. © Hufton+Crow

Exterior view of the cliff-like form. © Hufton+Crow

As we started thinking about the project one of my colleagues showed me a picture of the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland – it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape. The design of V&A Dundee attempts to translate this geographical uniqueness into the building by creating an artificial cliff.
/ Kengo Kuma

The exteriors and interiors of the building, however, may be enough to unite certain critics and supporters, given the architecture’s roots in Scotland’s natural and cultural history. Kengo Kuma and Associates have taken inspiration from the country’s dramatic cliff-formations, translating them into 2,500 pre-cast concrete panels, each weighing up to two-tonnes. Varying the size, shape and placement of these panels results in a more organic façade that changes over the course of the day, casting shadows and reflecting light that are characteristic for this specific artificial cliff, much like its ancient sisters in north-eastern Scotland.

Building meeting the river. © Hufton+Crow

Building meeting the river. © Hufton+Crow

Once inside, the 8,500 square meters offer visitors a main hall, learning centre, auditorium, temporary exhibition galleries and the permanent Scottish Design galleries. The interior walls have a similar layered structure to the façade, but shaped out of wood, as opposed to concrete. Included in the exhibition is the heavily-reported Oak Room reconstruction, originally designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose most famous work, the Glasgow School of Art, burned down this year for the second time.

Oak Room. © Hufton+Crow

Oak Room. © Hufton+Crow

Museums are cosmopolitan institutions, and the story of these galleries is the story of Scotland’s influence on global design and the influence of global design on Scotland.
/ Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A

Dundee was a city built on trade and the river played a vital role. The building acts like a gate through which the city can once again access the world.
/ Kengo Kuma

Construction process. © Hufton+Crow

Construction process. © Hufton+Crow

Construction process. © Hufton+Crow

Construction process. © Hufton+Crow

This global connection that Dundee seeks, as we all do, has without a doubt been an integral part of the creation of the V&A Dundee. It is the result of a collaboration within the United Kingdom that will continue for at least another 25 years, but also between creative and ambitious groups across the world. In addition to the building being designed by a Japanese architecture firm, the formwork for the in-situ casting process was manufactured in five different locations. Furthermore, the work that went into conceiving the V&A Dundee doesn’t just span cultures and geography, it also has an element of time, connecting the ancient cliffs that inspired the design to the contemporary digital manufacturing methods that were used, including digital mapping and 3D-modeling.

This modern interpretation of some of Scotland’s most beautiful natural forms is in some ways symbolic for what the V&A Dundee hopes to do for its city; finding a new identity in our modern, fast-paced world, while still trying to stay true to the original.

Structural model exploded © Arup

Structural model exploded © Arup

 

V&A Dundee between river and city. © Hufton+Crow

V&A Dundee between river and city. © Hufton+Crow

Location: 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee DD1 4EZ, United Kingdom

Architects: Kengo Kuma and Associates

Completion date: 2018

Total floor area: 8,445 square metres

Partners in charge: Kengo Kuma, Yuki Ikeguchi, Teppei Fujiwara

Project Architect: Maurizio Mucciola

Delivery Architect: PiM.studio Architects

Executive Architect: James F Stephen Architects

Structural/Maritime and Civil Engineer: Arup

Mechanical, Electrical, Fire and Acoustic Engineer: Arup

Façade Engineering: Arup

Lighting: Arup

Landscape Architect: Optimised Environments (OPEN)

Quantity Surveyor: CBA

Wayfinding and Signage: Cartlidge Levene

Principal Designer: Kengo Kuma & Associates / PiM.studio Architects

Principal Designer Advisor: C-MIST

DDA Consultants: C-MIST – James F Stephen Architects

Water Feature Specialist: Fountains Direct

Budget: £80.11 million

Client: Dundee City Council

Project Manager: Turner & Townsend

Main Contractor: BAM Construct UK

INFORMATION

CITYDundee
COUNTRYScotland
SIZE8,445 sq.m
ARCHITECTKengo Kuma & Associates

CLIENT

CONTRACTOR