V&A Dundee

Kengo Kuma and Associates, Dundee, 2018

 

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The scheme is part of the ongoing regeneration of Dundee Waterfront 

Jim Stephenson     Download Original

  • The scheme is part of the ongoing regeneration of Dundee Waterfront    
  • The building takes an Orkney cliff face as its inspiration    
  • The building is striated with horizontal lines of gapped, trapezoidally sectioned concrete ribs    
  • Irregularly angled oak boards clothe the reception volume    
  • One of the exhibition spaces    
  • The Oak Room is full of touchable, crafted surfaces    
  • The reception desk    
  • Kengo Kuma    
  • Space, light and sightlines have been manipulated using the different geometries of the lower and upper levels    
  • The triple-height reception space    
  • Plans    
  • Sections    
  • Galleries ceiling detail    
  • External wall detail    

Kuma’s museum is a focal point of Dundee’s regeneration.

The building’s form was inspired by the shape and layering of Noup Head, an Orkney cliff face. The building is striated with horizontal lines of gapped, trapezoidally sectioned concrete ribs. From the north-west, 100m away, the building almost resembles two stony outcrops, shaped roughly like inverted pyramids. They are joined by an arched grotto (parallel to Scott’s preserved polar exploration ship, Discovery, docked 70m away) and sit in radiused pools of water. The V&A’s two outcrops are asymmetrically torsioned, variable in plan and section, producing generally organic formal effects.     

The 8,445m² building is entered through a cave-like, concrete-ribbed threshold in the southern outcrop, axially aligned with South Union Street, which runs downhill from the south-east edge of the town centre past the commercially redeveloped railway station – part of the ongoing £1 billion Dundee Waterfront regeneration.

The triple-height reception volume covers half the footprint of the southern outcrop. Here are the architecture’s only substantial, architecturally significant natural materials: the large, irregularly angled oak boards – reminiscent of the angled thatch batts on the façade of Kuma’s Yusuhara Marche – that clothe the variably sloped walls of the reception volume; the mussel shards in the white concrete floor of the café and restaurant; and the fossilised plants and sea creatures in the Carlow Blue limestone of the main floor and staircase.   

Internally, space, light, and sightlines have been manipulated using the different geometries of the lower and upper levels – especially in the way the triangular plan of the top-floor café, glazed on its west and north sides, segues into the revealed inner face of the concrete prow of the building, which juts 19m out over the Tay. 

From the café, one can look down into the reception volume, see the building’s prow, and glimpse the Tay railway bridge. There are other outlooks: from a narrow triangular external terrace on the east side of the top floor; a triangular gash of glazing and dozens of punched, cannon-port-sized windows in the reception volume; and a large glazed top-floor corner section where the building’s two outcrops meet.

The project’s most important detail is the external wall section – including most of the project’s key elements, from the external façade with the precast panels to the main structure of the building, the slot windows providing views out, the timber panels and the continuous bench characterising the main hall space.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room, from Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street tea palais in Glasgow, has been meticulously reassembled in the Scottish Design Galleries.

Data

  • Begun: Mar 2015
  • Completed: Sep 2018
  • Floor area: 8,445m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £80.1M
  • Address: 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee, DD1 4EZ, United Kingdom

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