kengo kuma: V&A at dundee shortlisted design


design proposal of ‘V&A at dundee’ by kengo kuma
all images courtesy kengo kuma and V&A at dundee

kengo kuma‘s shortlisted design of the ‘V&A at dundee‘ is a single volume composed
of two tapered and offset forms which aims to generate new relations between the tay river
and the waterfront. given the very prominent site of the project, the proposal not only looks
at the building itself but a new addition of a network of public spaces to take advantage
of the harbour space. the result is a literal extension of the public space onto the water and
a promenade that meanders through and around the building. the creation of multiple
public plazas at the foot of the museum not only serve as an outdoor exhibition/event space
for the institution, but reshapes the waterfront into a space for both locals and visitors to enjoy.


bird’s eye view of the public square


view of the museum from the union street axis

primarily driven by the conditions already on site, the overall shape and form of
the museum negotiates the already strong and established axes of the waterfront:
the city’s access which runs along union street, and the axis created by the docked
‘RSS discovery’, the last wooden three-masted ship to be built in britain, now serving
as one of dundee’s main attraction. taking these two intersecting lines and rotating
one onto the other, the directionality of the V&A encourages unexpected visual relations
with the river and the city. moments along the public promenade which meanders under
the belly of the museum are framed by the structure itself, providing certain views and
perspectives of dundee and the tay.


view from the waterfront


timber deck alongside the V&A

constructed out of layers of prefabricated concrete beams, the building lacks any hard edges
when seen from a distance. the columns are assembled on site to achieve the gradually offset
structure and clad in reconstituted stone from local materials. the resulting permeable shell
allows for natural ventilation as well as abundant daylighting. the actual structure itself is cut
with glazing which changes the density of the volume, provides texture, and allows the museum
to easily control the museum’s microclimate.


east elevation

the main hall serves as an indoor public square with programs such as shops, cafe
and restaurant. in order to avoid the perfection of the museum as a self-standing
extraneous object on the river, the timer deck of the promenade and plaza is gradually
translated to the interior and continued on the other side of the building.


sectional view


main hall seen from the balcony on the first floor


digital wall and art installation in main entrance hall


(clockwise from top left) the signatur restaurant by the tay, cafe with panoramic terrace, public path framed by the museum, temporary exhibition in the main gallery


ground floor plan


first floor plan


physical model

the other shortlisted firms are REX, snøhetta, sutherland huhssey, steven holl, and delugan meissel.

the university of abertay dundee is currently hosting ‘V&A at dundee – making it happen’
which will exhibit all six shortlisted designs in drawings and models. the public is invited
to give their input and opinions of the designs until the 4th of november, 2010.
the winner will be announced in early november with the final building planned to open in 2014.

  • Source:   ‘V&A at dundee‘/ www.designboom.com
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