Thursday 21 October 2010

V&A at Dundee

Looks like some good news for Dundee amidst all the gloom.  Plans are afoot to build a new museum in the city.  It will be a Scottish offshoot of the famous V&A in London, the world’s leading museum of art and design.  From the project’s brochure - “The V&A at Dundee will be an international centre for design housed in a stunning building at the heart of Dundee’s waterfront.”
This is part of a long term plan to redevelop the city’s riverside waterfront.  The space earmarked for the building includes utilizing part of the river itself.  The main structure will be on the river!  As this is a major development the promoters hope that the building itself will be an example of exceptional design.  Below is a plan of the waterfront, showing where the new building will be located.
Apparently more than 120 architects from around the world entered the fray and this has now been whittled down to a final list of six shortlisted designs.  These are now on display in Dundee.  The exhibition V&A at Dundee - Making it Happen, is in the Abertay University Library.  There you can see models, photographic and other other images of each design, along with descriptions of each vision.  It is well worth visiting, especially as members of the public are invited to list in order of preference their favourite design.  So if you live anywhere near Dundee make an effort to see the exhibition and vote for your choice.  For those who cannot get to Dundee, here are a couple of websites to whet your appetite.  If you just want to see a simple image of each design then the BBC offer that here.  For a fuller account of the whole project you can go here.
I have managed a quick tour of the exhibition on a couple of occasions, both accompanied by grandchildren.  I hope to get back at least one more time to get a more leisurely view of the designs.  At the moment my preference is marginally for the design by Oslo based Snøheta.  I particularly like this design for two main reasons.  The first is that the building will sit directly into the water, floating on the surface of the river.  Secondly the building will be very low level, and this should make it more human in scale.  People are likely to feel very relaxed and at home in and around this building.
I also like the design from New York based REX.  This is an altogether different vision.  All see through glass the “Bluebell” rises up in what appears to be six interlocking structures that widen as they rise.  I like the outward simplicity of the structure and the use of glass.  Looks like a very innovative design, which may attract a lot of attention, both for and against!
The other design which I quite like is by Steven Holl, a team based in New York and Beijing.  This looks by far the tallest of the designs and rises as a series of very narrow structures above the river.  The model looks very impressive and the building would certainly stand out, literally.  This is my main concern about the design.  I fear it would be too dominating for a relatively small city like Dundee.  It may also appear very obtrusive thrusting up on its own in the river.  Much as I like this design, I don’t think it suits the site.
None of the other three designs particularly impressed me.  Two were much too avant guard for my simple tastes, while the other was just too like a workbox to inspire anyone.  Best of all to see for yourself - you have until 4th November to visit the exhibition.  The winning design is to be announced later in the month.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I initially liked the Snøhetta design, but am concerned about two things: 1. they have a poor reputation from the legal row they've had with Kent County Council after costs spiralled almost four-fold and 2. the interior has multiple levels, making access difficult for those with mobility or sensory impairments. I wasn't that taken with the Rex design on closer inspection - the interior is dull and how long would it remain that shiny?
    By a process of elimination, I would go for Kuma. But the most important thing is for the project to be realised!