Suzanne Lovell Inc

Architecture

A gem in Dundee, Scotland

November 24, 2018

Philip Long, director of V&A Dundee said, “Kengo Kuma’s design, which beautifully links the city and the River Tay, is already attracting global interest”. No surprise there 1,500 people have worked on the project since inception.

Image courtesy of: Project Scot, photographed by: Alan Richardson

Dundee, a “second tier” city in Scotland just received a major endorsement with the opening of the new Victoria and Albert Museum designed by Kengo Kuma. This museum, which opened on September 15th, will showcase Scotland’s design heritage… past, present, and future. The undertaking, which took eight long years, is built on the city’s beautiful waterfront and the first V&A outside of London. Kuma has said of the project that he wanted to “create a new living room for the city”.

The museum’s location was deliberate and part of an effort to rejuvenate the city’s waterfront area. The plan to build the V&A Dundee was financially backed by the Scottish government who promised to devote $1.3 billion in private and public investment to the city’s overhaul.

Image courtesy of: Visit Scotland, photographed by: Ross Fraser McLean

Just of the Tay Road Bridge, the ship-like design seems to balance above the River Tay… just like a boat waiting to sail away. 350,000 visitors a year are expected to visit each year; to see the 200 permanent collections along with various temporary shows. The first major show will be “Ocean Liners: Speed and Style” which will showcase what life is like on board the world’s most spectacular ocean liners. The show hopes to pay homage to the city’s boat-building past.

The city of Dundee “got” the V&A because of a close relationship between the museum and the University of Dundee. Interestingly enough, Dundee wasn’t one of the places originally shortlisted as a potential venue for a new V&A.

Image courtesy of: The Press and Journal

The history of Dundee isn’t glamorous… Dundee is a city with a heritage in boat building, jute production, and gaming. Once the jute mills closed in the late 1970’s and 1980’s due to a decline in production, Dundee fell into post-industrial demise.

Throughout the UK, cities with waterfronts were often overlooked; although these are the cities with the most potential. Rivers were cut off from the town’s center because they were blocked by the big factories and warehouses. Although this might not make a lot of sense to us today, that was the state of affairs in those days. Luckily, projects such as the V&A Dundee are bringing glory back to these “forgotten” cities.

Who would have though? Dundee has a long history in gaming and “Grand Theft Auto” was developed in Dundee.

Image courtesy of: The National

More than 250 items were borrowed from both public and private collections. We love the depth the collections showcase. For example, it touches on the growing socialite culture of the 1920’s with a room entirely dedicated to the umbrella-lined lido desks and flapper dresses. We were also drawn to the largest surviving piece from the Titanic which is on display and shown in Europe for the first time.

Above is the Oak Room which has been fully restored and moved to the center of the building. Kuma has said about the room”In the Oak Room, people will feel his sensibility and respect for nature, and hopefully connect it with our design for V&A Dundee.”

Image courtesy of; Dezeen

Kuma designed the building to have two angular volumes and is clad in 2,500 horizontal concrete panels. These panels connect on the first floor to form a single building.

There is a terrace accessible from the Scottish galleries and the foyer, which shows views of the River Tay.  The restaurant is beautiful and overlooks the entrance hall. An auditorium and learning spaces are located on the first floor.

All and all, over 1,500 people were involved on this project, at its various phases.

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