Shortlist for V&A Dundee

Wednesday 29 Sep 2010

Six new designs have been released from shortlisted firms competing for V&A Dundee

V&A at Dundee - Making it Happen is new exhibition in the library of Abertay University in Dundee featuring six ambitious designs from international practices shortlisted for the V&A Dundee. 121 entries were whittled down to just six in May this year, leaving Steven Holl (New York), REX (New York), Kengo Kuma (Japan), Snohetta (Norway) with Gareth Hoskins Architects (Scotland), Sutherland Hussey (UK) and Delugan Meissl (Austria) to battle it out for the £45m project.

An explanation for Steven Holl's angular composition reads: "floating over its own reflection in the River Tay the new form levitates alive and is fused with the changes in the river water and weather changes. Inner spaces around a cascade of light are promising like a blank page about futures to be creatively fabricated." Holl's artistically inclined design aesthetic shines through this proposal, jilted boxes reflected in the rushing waters that anchor it.

With a more sculptural edge, REX's blue crystalline creation appears to be going down well with visitors to the V&A at Dundee - Making it Happen website, who have showered the design with comments such as: "the idea of this elegant form that reflects the surroundings is both astonishing and subtle." The New York firm has clearly divided the facility into five separate areas, working independently from one another yet interlinked by a central core.

Kengo Kuma's proposal focuses on the production of communal public space, integrating the structure into Dundee's existing culture. The design explanation reads: "the museum itself with its big and open public hall will be part of the new system of public spaces, becoming a sort of covered public square where people can go and enjoy the warm feeling of this welcoming space, just for shopping at the museum store...as it happens in any successful vital public square." One may argue that the design reads more as a mixed-use facility than Scotland's leading centre of design.  

The majority of these concept designs dominate the Dundee waterfront, towering above the River Tay in a dramatic statement of sculptural artistry. Collaboration between Snohetta and Gareth Hoskins Architects has spawned a more alternative proposition - a low lying structure with large expanses of glass "designed to engage with the light of the river, the dynamic of the river and with the energy of the river." In contrast to some of the other proposals, Snohetta and GHA's museum is designed to float on the very surface of the water so that it "continually rises and falls in rhythm with the Tay's tidal change."

Sutherland Hussey's pavilion-style structure is yet to accumulate the glowing reviews shared by its rivals, with comments such as ‘This is not how we want to portray Dundee' and ‘I know this design may in fact be subtly brilliant but I'm afraid it's just passing me by'. It's still early days however and the UK firm have attempted to reference elements of Dundee's industrial, shipbuilding past throughout the design with "strong and simple forms resilient in their exposed location."

Last but by no means least is an extravagant proposal by Delugan Meissl. Taking the initiative to alter the topographical foundations of the site, the practice has suggested a structure "raised off the ground yet centrally anchored, the spectacular structural body balanced upon its formidable base [creating] a powerful aesthetic value with its tensions between balance and movement."

The shortlisted designs will be on show (free admission) from 29th September to 4th November, whilst the project itself is slated for completion in early 2015.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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