On September 15 opens the V & A Dundee, the first design museum in Scotland designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma

It will be the only Victoria and Albert Museum in the world outside of London, a sort of opening sign if we think of the much feared Brexit, and will be inaugurated on September 15th. The V & A museum of design Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum in the UK, will be a building that will interact with the surrounding landscape, thanks to the project of one of the greatest contemporary architects Kengo Kuma.
The V & A emigrates to Scotland

The V & A Dundee will not be a detachment from the main office – the V & A in South Kensington, appreciated not only for its permanent collections, but also for its temporary exhibitions – but a separate museum, with its own director, where to discover international design of the past, the present and the future, with particular attention to Scottish design, the heart of the museum with the Scottish design galleries, and to the identity of this region.

The museum will be under the influence of London, starting with the architectural design by Kengo Kuma, a Japanese architect who designs buildings integrated into the nature and culture of the place all over the world.

Kuma opened his European studio ten years ago in Paris, France, and now makes his UK debut with this project. The very choice of the city of Dundee is not accidental. Elected in 2014 City of Design by UNESCO, Scotland’s fourth most populous city aims to break away from its industrial center past and become as popular as the best-known Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The architectural project of Kengo Kuma

Inspired by the cliffs to the northeast of the Scottish coast, Dundee’s V & A is part of a broader vision that has helped to change the city’s waterfront, once part of the port area, to create a city beach and a marina. “My inspiration always starts from the place where the project will be carried out”, commented Kengo Kuma, working in Japan with some interventions in view of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, including the Olympic Stadium.
As the architect explains, uniqueness is in the location of the building, located between the water and the city, specifically on the mouth of the river Tay. “As soon as we started thinking about the project, one of my colleagues showed me a picture of the cliffs northeast of Scotland. It is as if the earth and the water had a long conversation and, finally, they had created this splendid form “. The museum then tries to translate this geographical uniqueness into the building by creating an artificial reef.
“Normally a building is considered a kind of sculpture placed on a podium with respect to the surrounding nature, we have done the opposite, we put the building in the water. From a technical point of view it was not easy, but with the right materials we created a kind of artificial rock that integrates with real rocks and touches the water, “said the architect in an interview released during the Design Week 2018.
The building itself consists of three levels above ground level and has an area of ​​8 thousand square meters, of which 1,650 are used for exhibition functions. As shown by the architect, the shape of the structure resembles that of two inverted pyramids separated on the ground floor, which connect to the upper floor through the galleries. This creates an open arch in the center of the museum, which symbolizes the reconnection of the city with the river, frames the view of the river Tay and refers to the royal arch built nearby to welcome Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1844.

The V & A Dundee is a building that communicates with the surrounding landscape and resembles the cliffs of Scotland © V & A Dundee

Design at the center of the Scottish museum

The Scottish design galleries will be the hub of the museum and will be free entry, with a route that will explore the landscape design of the northernmost region of the United Kingdom, from the past until today. The galleries will host around 300 objects representing a wide range of design disciplines from decorative arts, with furniture, textiles and ceramics, to fashion, architecture, engineering and video games. It will also be a path to show how Scotland’s design reflects its history, politics and geography, and to explore how trade and migration have helped to achieve international impact.

he structure of the building forms an arch that frames the river Tay and recalls the memorial arch erected for the visit of the royals Victoria and Albert © Hufton + Crow
The first temporary exhibition that will host Dundee’s V & A will be Ocean liners: speed and style, which has already been hosted at the V & A in London. It is a journey into the golden age of transatlantic travel, with particular attention to nautical design. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, textile articles, furnishings, including those based on the history of the Titanic. Scotland will play a key role in this exhibition, and space will be given to the design, development and shipbuilding projects in the region.
The event is scheduled for September 15 in Dundee, to discover Scottish design and visit the first Kengo Kuma project in the United Kingdom.