Set to open next month, the V&A Dundee is an undulating modern museum set on the banks of Scotland's longest river that marks the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's first foray into the UK. As he is wont to do, the creation pays tribute to the local environment with a warped and jagged exterior that references Scotland's famous coastal cliffs.
The V&A Dundee is a new branch of London's Victoria and Albert Museum and is not only Kuma's first project in the UK, but the very first dedicated design museum for Scotland. Structures that exist in harmony with their surroundings are a hallmark of Kuma's portfolio, which spans from his native Japan to Brazil to Portland, USA.
Set on the edge of the River Tay in the Scottish city of Dundee, the museum was designed to integrate with the environment and serve as a "living room" for the city and revitalize the community. Along with exhibition spaces, the museum is home to a large public hall for concerts and workshops, a shop, cafe and restaurant.
The facade is an intricate and complex arrangement of long panels made from a mix of stone, cement and reinforcement mesh. These pre-cast concrete blocks gently rotate along the building's exterior, giving the impression that its walls lean inwards at some points and outwards at others.
Inspired by the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland, this cladding also creates unique shadows that take on different patterns in changing weather conditions and times of day. A large void also runs through the center of the building, creating a dramatic walkway that connects the river to the city streets.
"My inspiration always starts from the place where the project will be," says Kuma. "In the past, I have visited Scotland many times. It is a very beautiful country and I'm truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature."
The V&A Dundee opens on September 15, with its first exhibition to showcase the design and importance of ocean liners throughout the 20th century.
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