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Architects: Kengo Kuma & Associates

Location: Dundee, Scotland, UK

Area: 8.445 m2

Year: 2018

Photography: Hufton + Crow

V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape

“My inspiration always starts from the place where the project will be. I have visited Scotland many times. It is a very beautiful country and I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature. When we started this competition, the first thing I wanted to do was visit the site. I always want to do this. After all, certain things can be felt there and nowhere else.” – Kengo Kuma


The building envelope is created by methods of twisting, connecting and layering the city grid axis and the adjacent RRS Discovery ship axis, using a ring structure made of reconstituted stone and concrete to complement the traditional construction materials used in Dundee and reflect the natural cliff structure of the coastline.

The building’s form creates dramatic spaces, with an impressive main hall forming a public indoor plaza and areas that overhang the external public plaza. The external envelope draws people to the waterfront and generates a new migration route along the riverside promenade. The interior space of the main hall is filled with a gentle light emanating from apertures cut through the layered stone to create an open yet intimate public space.

Ground Floor

The ground floor, which splits into two parts connecting on the upper floor, comprises the building entrance hall, reception, the café and the shop in the public part of the building, and administration, delivery, back-of-house facilities, and storage in the second part of the building.

The main hall will be a welcoming social space, a ‘living room for the city’ designed to encourage the public to interact with the building. It will be a fully programmed space hosting a variety of design-led events, a vibrant place for everyone to socialise in and enjoy.

We designed a space that could capture the imagination of visitors and feel like an extension of the sequence of public spaces and plazas outside. It will create a strong integration between outside and inside, providing an offer that will appeal both to the citizens of Dundee and to visitors from all over the world.

Flexibility and ease of access are critical to the function of this room. This is achieved through the careful organisation and positioning of elements such as the reception desk, cloakroom, café, museum shop and main feature staircase. Consideration of visitor movement within the area is reflected in the layout of this space.

First Floor

The picnic room, offices and associated amenities are located on the first floor. The remainder of the space is predominantly dedicated to plant space and storage.

Second Floor

The second floor is dedicated to exhibition galleries: the permanent Scottish Design Galleries and the 1,100 sqm temporary exhibition gallery, which can also be subdivided in two galleries.

On the same floor there is a learning centre with learning studios, a 150-seat auditorium and a design studio, a resource centre, a flexible open space for the Michelin Design Gallery and a restaurant with a beautiful view over the River Tay.

Architects: Kengo Kuma & Associates

Location: Dundee, Scotland, UK

Area: 8.445 m2

Year: 2018

Photography: Hufton + Crow

urbanNext (July 22, 2024) V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape. Retrieved from
V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape.” urbanNext – July 22, 2024,
urbanNext March 14, 2019 V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape., viewed July 22, 2024,<>
urbanNext – V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape. [Internet]. [Accessed July 22, 2024]. Available from:
V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape.” urbanNext – Accessed July 22, 2024.
V&A Dundee: Building the Landscape.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: July 22, 2024]

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