kengo kuma chosen to complete V&A dundee project in scotland
kengo kuma chosen to complete V&A dundee project in scotland kengo kuma chosen to complete V&A dundee project in scotland
nov 02, 2010

kengo kuma chosen to complete V&A dundee project in scotland

out of the six shortlisted proposals from internationally renowned practices, kengo kuma & associates has been awarded the first prize for its design of the V&A at dundee. planned to open in 2014, the building is a collaborative effort by london’s victoria and albert museum, abertay and dundee universities, dundee city council and scottish enterprise to become the new leading centre for design and art in scotland.


the japanese firm’s winning proposal 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 scheme 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.

all images courtesy KKAA / V&A dundee



primarily driven by the conditions already on site, the overall shape and form of the museum negotiates the existing 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.


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. 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 shells 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.



kengo kuma’s proposal was the unanimous choice of the jury panel and is a worthy winner; a building that will delight visitors and encourage them to revisit it again and again. it demonstrates a clear understanding of the city, offers a new experience of the river, and will be as exciting internally as it will be externally,’ said lesley knox, chair of the V&A at dundee project.


kengo kuma said, ‘it is a great honor to hear the news and my team and I are grateful for this significant opportunity. I am thrilled to be able to work with those at V&A at dundee in order to give shape to their vision, to contribute meaningfully to the cultural richness of the city. it will be an exciting endeavor that will combine the tradition and heritage of the victoria and albert museum and our new ideas. furthermore, we are enthusiastic about the amazing site, the city and environment – it is our intention to find a balanced approach to nature and the city life of dundee. we wish to bring our best efforts forward, with vigor and passion.’



the design team for the V&A at dundee project includes the scottish firms cre8architecture, optimised environments ltd, and CBA, and the engineering firm arup. after further development of the proposal, detailed design work will continue throughout 2011 and work is projected to start onsite in autumn of 2012.

floor plan / level 0

floor plan / level +1

east elevation

sectional view

schematic diagram

physical model



the other shortlisted firms were REX, snøhetta, sutherland hussey, steven holl, and delugan meissl.




  • call me a sissy – but some architectural design makes me want to vomit.

    tico says:
  • Rock on Kengo!

    intern hero says:
  • man, all of the shortlisted designs look awesome. too bad it’s in scotland.

    benny says:
  • why todays designers eager to make anything so complicated?

    Eric Calabros says:
  • Really great. The design looks inviting and encourages exploration, how a museum should be. Nice structural detailing which I think will get better with age, and also references what the V&A is all about, craft and design.

    kevin says:
  • I vote for it! for me, It’s the best option.
    Go Kengo!

    biboarchitect says:
  • and the architecture (as well as diagrammatic presentation) are B.I.G.’s. i wonder if these groups should be getting the credit?

    jimmy says:
  • Benny said :” man, all of the shortlisted designs look awesome. too bad it’s in scotland.”

    Ah, another anti-Scottish bigot and one who doesn’t understand the use of capital letters. I take it you’re English? Thought so — that stench of bitterness and inferiority seems to be an odour which plagues too many English people.

    The Kengo Kuma design is my favourite — not only is the exhibit-space noticeably more expansive than the other designs but the actual structure creates little spaces, windows and moments which frame views of the Tay via the structure of the building itself.

    Queen Shanika of the Compton projects! says:
  • isn’t it too B.I.G.?

    bilbo says:
  • Stop making comments and agree that this is a waste of time, at all.

    I ignore it to keep my patience.

    Onur says:
  • Huge and ugly!

    Nick says:
  • Looks good, but I really wonder if it would integrate with the landscape???

    Shabnam Akram says:
  • Looks like Moneo’s Kursaal on drugs.

    Grasshopper says:
  • Kursaal. I agree. But minus the talent.

    wpgmb says:
  • well- to read some of these comments i have to lament by the quality of (personal) negativity that has been added to the project.
    (i.e.queen shanika might probably benefit from more observation i.e. designboom website above is all in lower cap!).
    but, as far as kengo’s proposal . . ,
    despite its immensely complex facade , the “functional” probability that it will certainly become a nest for seagulls and birds (it’s on the water) to build and customize.
    maybe a time lapse would help to conceptualize its
    change when the birds defecate down its facade.

    0smosis says:
  • kengo man ! u just nailed it!

    AB says:

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