Something in the City: Design and culture in Dundee

Case Study - V&A Dundee
- Design Dundee: A partnership between the V&A, Dundee City Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Universities of Dundee and Abertay
Architects - Kengo Kuma, working with cre8architecture and Arup
Cost - £80.11m
Completion - 2018

Opening in 2018, V&A Museum of Design Dundee will be the only V&A museum outside of London. It will be the first-ever dedicated design museum in Scotland, billed as ‘an international centre for design, a place of inspiration, discovery and learning’. But it is a very different picture of design being presented than the glittering baubles and priceless ceramics on show in London – though a selection of these will undoubtedly be on display too. It’s also about the kind of design and innovation that has made a difference to the lives of people in Scotland and beyond – building on the country’s tremendous heritage in engineering and medical science.

The housing for these treasures is an £80.11m scheme, designed by Kengo Kuma, and forms the centrepiece of Dundee’s ambitious £1bn waterfront regeneration project. At once monumental and humble, the angled planes of the building’s exterior will be semi-translucent, clad in pale stone panels, pouring light into the ample public spaces inside. The museum, whose shape echoes both the ships that used to be built here, and the rocky land profile around it, will be an anchor for the waterfront’s new cultural and creative quarter.

Beating five other practices in the 2010 competition for the scheme (including Snøhetta and Steven Holl Architects), it will be Kuma’s first building in the UK. Currently working on Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic stadium, Kuma had a vision for the museum as a new ‘living room for the city’. Originally sited further out to sea, the building was brought back to the harbour to prevent costs – already doubled since the original proposal – from escalating further.

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