REX architecture: V&A at dundee shortlisted design REX architecture: V&A at dundee shortlisted design
sep 29, 2010

REX architecture: V&A at dundee shortlisted design

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

earlier this year, the dundee city council launched an international architecture competition to design a new £47m center for art and design. ‘V&A at dundee‘, which will sit on the bank of the river tay at the foot of the city’s union street, is a collaborative effort by london’s victoria and albert museum, abertay and dundee universities, dundee city council and scottish enterprise. the new center will be scotland’s leading centre for design and art.

one of the 6 shortlisted international firms is new-york based REX headed by principal architect joshua prince-ramus. the design is a crystallized volume clad in mirror glass. much like the louisiana museum of modern art in denmark, the centre utilizes a spoke-and-hub system of organization, creating multiple gallery spaces that can function independently from one another.

night view

the overall form of ‘V&A at dundee’ is of an upside down pyramid: tapered at the bottom with an extended face at the top. this configuration simultaneously minimizes the building’s footprint while maximizing on the space allotted for the galleries. the larger open area at the foot of the center also allows for the generation of public space in the form of an exterior plaza. the tapered shape also has the ability to self-shade during the summer, while still allowing in a large amount of natural daylight–an important factor in a museum institution–through its abundance of skylights. the faceted form of the building not only economizes the space but also becomes a secondary structural layer of diagonal perimeter columns.  

street view from steeple church

the project is divided into four levels: the ground-level marshalling area, a civic area, an incubator layer for scottish design, and the exhibition space on the top floor. these layers pivot around a central core which houses the building’s lifts, toilets, mechanical/electrical/plumbing and fire stairs. by centralizing these programs, the rest of the space can be arranged freely and flexibly around the perimeter and benefit from natural daylight. the core also serves as the building’s primary gravity and lateral support.

the interstitial spaces in between the individual gallery rooms provide an area free of a set program, which allows the museum to adapt to a number of varying needs. the gallery promenade may host smaller works, provide a space for educational gatherings or accommodate for transportable retail points.

site plan

sectional elevation looking northeast

elevation looking northwest

diagram of form and arrangement

(1) create a ‘layer cake’ – each of the four layers are dedicated to and equipped for specific duties: exhibition, creative, civic, marshaling. the cube form, however, is not cost or energy efficient, nor would it be possible to accommodate all galleries on a single floor. (2) stretch the top – in order to maximize the flexibility of the exhibition space and to facilitate continuity of patron experience, the top of the cube is stretched to fill all the galleries. this also allows for more natural light thereby reducing the museum’s highest energy demand. (3) contract the base – by reducing the building footprint to its smallest, the building’s sub-structure cost is considerably reduced, leaving a larger budget to generate public space in the form of an exterior plaza. union street’s axis is extended far into the river tay, providing locals and visitor’s uninterrupted views. (4) maximize sustainability – the resulting shape maximizes on daylight penetration into the galleries while providing the largest horizontal surface possible for solar and rainwater collection. the tapered shape has a self-shading effect during the summer. (5) centralise the core – a centralized core and eight trusses serve as the building’s primary gravity and lateral support. the core houses the lifts, toilets, mechanical/electrical/plumbing and fire stairs. this arrangement increases circulation while pushing all programs to the perimeter with direct access to daylight. (6) shrink wrap – the inverted pyramid form is then shrink-wrapped around the hub-and-spoke gallery spaces to economize area and to create a secondary structural layer of diagonal perimeter columns. (7) reflect the surroundings – the facade is clad in mirror glass to reflect the river tay, the sky and surroundings. the angled nature of the exterior will prevent sunlight from blinding the local establishments. (8) evoke a bluebell – the resulting form is an unexpected but iconographic building concept, resembling a scottish bluebell.

(top) typical circulation vs. hub-and-spoke – the conventional museum procession of a linear loop of galleries is a major curatorial and operational problem: all the galleries must be used at once and it is difficult to subdivide the space during the mounting/dismounting of a show. it also fixes the sequence in which the visitors see the art work. the ‘hub-and-spoke’ organization centralizes the patrons and art circulation. the fixed sequence is disposed of and allows independent access to each gallery.

(bottom) different configuration of shows – the hub-and-spoke organization enables one large show, or five different shows simultaneously.

(left) extension of the union street axis (right) gallery promenade – fissures in the hub-and-spoke arrangement provide moments of repose with views of the river tay and the city of dundee. this in between space may also be used for smaller works, educational gatherings, or movable retail points.

looking from craig harbour

sectional view looking north

sectional view looking east

view of civic layer as event space

view from within the exhibition layer circulation

floor plan – level 0 / marshalling layer

(1) main entrance (2) cloakroom (3) digital wall (4) orientation/digital wall tribune (5) grand stair up to level 1/ civic layer (6) signature restaurant (7) wine bar (8) public lift vestibule (9) public lifts (10) delivery/collections/marshalling area (11) forklift storage (12) security (13) active object storage (14) object preparation space (15) art lift (16) contractor/marshalling preparation space (17) staff entrance (18) staff reception/lobby (19) staff lift (20) first aid (21) reception of goods (22) non-art deliveries/marshalling area (23) shared kitchen (24) dumbwaiter (25) plant (26) women’s WCs (27) men’s WCs

floor plan – level 1 / civic layer

(1) orientation/digital wall tribune (2) grand stair down to level 1 / civic layer (3) grand stair up to level 2 / creative layer (4) tickets/information (5) waiting area (6) public lifts (7) retail (8) art lift (9) main hall/event space (10) promontory (11) staff lift (12) cafe/brassiere (13) prep kitchen/event servery (14) dumbwaiter (15) void to destination restaurant (16) packed lunch zone (17) family WC/baby change (18) women’s WCs (19) men’s WCs

floor plan – level 2 / creative layer

(1) design in action information point/cafe outlet (2) grand stair up to level 3 / exhibition layer (3) grand stair down to level 1 / civic layer (4) design in action tribune (public observation zone) (5) public lifts (6) practitioners zone (7) hoist (8) plant (9) offices (10)staff kitchen/eating area/relaxation area (11) staff lockers (12) female staff WCs/showers/changing area (13) male staff WCs/showers/changing area (14) art lift (15) ‘pulpit’ (16) void to promontory (17) staff lift (18) family WC/baby change (19) women’s WCs (20) men’s WCs (21) knowledge exchange zone (22) education zone

floor plan – level 3 / exhibition layer

(1) gallery 1a (2) gallery 1a contemplation space (3) gallery 1 connection (4) gallery 1b (5) gallery 1b contemplation space (6) gallery 1 to gallery 2 connection (7) gallery 2 (8) void to education zone (9) gallery 3 (design scotland gallery) (10) gallery 3 storage (11) grand stair down to design in action tribune (public observation zone) (12) gallery 4 (13) void to practitioners zone (14) exhibition layer circulation (15) public lifts (16) art lift (17) staff list (18) family WC/baby change (19) women’s WCs (20) men’s WCs

the other shortlisted firms are kengo kuma, snøhetta, sutherland hussey, steven holl, and delugan meissl.

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.

  • Outstanding!

    Steve says:
  • genius as always. don’t know how well it’s going to fit in the town though.

    daphne says:
  • kind of cheap

    John says:
  • Not good. far too clinical and monolithic. Reflections of a blue sky are nice but what about 90% of the time when the skies above Dundee are miserable and grey. Doesn’t say much to me about what the V&A is all about, craft and design. I don’t think it’ll age well either.

    kevin says:
  • Pretty scenery but I have my own questions:

    – How will the facades look when you have window frames, because you will not just have hectares of glass sheets with no framing, no matter how thin it is. Classic way to fool the eye.
    – how will you wash the angled glass facades? You can’t hang people to do that. Will they use automated pipe systems? how will they look? Or will they use nano technology to coat the glass with dust repellent particles

    Ostanciu says:
  • It is just awful. REx is always selling cheap renders for not very informed people and with almost no developement. It is good for them, they don’t have to work too much, but very bad for their clients. Eventually they get to win ocasioanlly a competition and mean while they do not have to pay employees because trainees are for free and they know how to do this low quality designs.

    Tom says:
  • looks awesome! As a final year engineering student, it’s great to see designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and structurally viable.

    R says:
  • i love this architecture very much

    kevin wong says:
  • outside in!

    eric says:
  • zürich kunstmuseum guys look at that from rex , just copy something is not the right answer for such a competition……….just cheap.

    copy paste says:
  • hubs and spokes? oh jeez… do they even know what that actually means? laaame

    b says:
  • it just appears installing all functions around services.neither functions nor form follows each other.
    not really thoughtful! does’nt works for me!

    AB says:

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