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V&A at Dundee relocation proposed

October 15 2012

V&A at Dundee relocation proposed
The proposed V&A at Dundee could be moved out of the Tay and onto dry land in a bid to cut costs and maintain the quality of the project.

The relocation will leave the rest of Kengo Kuma’s dramatic design, budget and schedule unaltered and bring it closer to the Discovery by locating it on land currently occupied by the Olympia Leisure Centre, with just a ‘prow’ projecting over the river.

Critics of the museum building had long contended that the plans were undeliverable at the stated construction cost of £31m due to the difficulty of building a substructure out into the Tay.

One unnamed source told Urban Realm at the time of Kengo Kuma’s selection: “The Kuma building, if delivered, is going to be great but the Dundee Council Team might have bitten off more than they can chew. More like £135 million of chewing.”

Maurizio Mucciola, of Kengo Kuma & Associates, said, “We have made some changes to the site plan, in full consultation with our project team. While retaining the original concept of our project and the qualities of the building, the new site plan will tighten the relationship of V&A at Dundee with the river and the city centre, and help connect the two with a sequence of quality public spaces around the building.”

Design Dundee Ltd has yet to make a final decision on the proposed changes but construction work is still scheduled to begin next year..
Demolition of the existing Olympia Centre is expected to commence imminently
Demolition of the existing Olympia Centre is expected to commence imminently
Proponents of the move say that it will help integrate the £45m museum with the wider waterfront masterplan
Proponents of the move say that it will help integrate the £45m museum with the wider waterfront masterplan

The move inland is cited as bringing greater certainty to the project
The move inland is cited as bringing greater certainty to the project


#1 Posted by Stef on 15 Oct 2012 at 13:18 PM
If they had chosen the REX scheme then it would have been on budget. With such a huge footprint it was clear from the start this one was going to require a compromise somewhere.
#2 Posted by David on 15 Oct 2012 at 13:25 PM
This scheme is infinately more elegant than the stumpy REX scheme though, so thank goodness they still have the correct answer. I'd say it's a pretty inevitable solution bringing it back from the coast line.
Baron Hill
#3 Posted by Baron Hill on 15 Oct 2012 at 14:56 PM
Looks even worse now it's grounded - terrible backdrop for the Discovery. Can't we get something that looks a bit more stylish than a lump of concrete driven ashore on a high tide?
#4 Posted by Cadmonkey on 15 Oct 2012 at 19:20 PM
Seems a pretty fundamental shift in the architectural design has taken place. Was it important conceptually for the original design to be largely off shore? If so, and a material change has taken place, with the architectural solution surely the competition should be re-run. What was the original concept that has been "retained"? Have to say the images don't sell it to me. One other thing, on the aerial image, is it correct that you cant walk round the building on the waterfront edge...looks like 2 dead ends with a pretty pointless protuding point. The building should decide if it is to be onshore, or off shore, it just seems to be hovering wonderng what it is supposed to be doing. A massive compromise. Rerun the competition please, and include costings as part of the submission.
#5 Posted by David on 15 Oct 2012 at 23:32 PM
Well originally this would have been off shore. The Olympia stands on the filled in Earl Gray Dock. Plenty of scope there for maintaining an 'over the Tay' aspect but not in the main flow of the river.
#6 Posted by SAndals on 16 Oct 2012 at 07:49 AM
Costs were included in the original competition submission - and Design Dundee were assured that the KK design was affordable. Question marks were raised at the losing team were very outspoken re monitoring design development re: significant changes.
I like the Kuma/Cre8 design, but do agree that we have lost some of the drama of the site and continuation of riverside walk with this revision. Rendered "landscaping" doesn't help compared to competition visuals...
Frank Lloyd Wrong
#7 Posted by Frank Lloyd Wrong on 16 Oct 2012 at 08:18 AM
I think everyone is in agreement that the building would be ideally located on the water if money was not an option (including the design team), however this is still by far the best project which was submitted in the competition and the relocation does not dilute the concept. With some clever thought about the immediate landscaping, I don't think it's the end of the world.

All the schemes submitted were well over budget if they took into account the engineering works to locate them on a plinth over the river, something which was not made clear as part of the competition brief (apart from maybe the Sutherland Hussey scheme and it was a Dog)

Calls to rerun the competition??? Spare a thought for the poor Dundonians. They love a whinge about how hard done by they are, can you imagine what this would do to them.
Methilated Spirits
#8 Posted by Methilated Spirits on 16 Oct 2012 at 09:29 AM
Looks like we're in danger of making a serious mistake here - the prospect of an ugly building beloved by some architects but loathed by the general public, paying no attention to the context of the excellent emerging street pattern, the Discovery or the need for a continuous riverside walkway. Hope this never happens in the form shown - it would be very unwise and a major opportunity lost! Why not commission a competent architect to design a decent, beautiful building specifically for the finally selected site?
#9 Posted by Stef on 16 Oct 2012 at 09:39 AM
The reason I mentioned the REX scheme, whether it was anyone's preference or not, is that keeping the building on budget (including engineering works) was a key driver of the form and design of the building. Had it been made clear that budget concerns were not part of the selection process and they were simply looking for an "artistic approach" that they could modify to fit their requirements then I dare say a lot of the teams involved would have presented radically different proposals.
Mies Van Dun Dee
#10 Posted by Mies Van Dun Dee on 16 Oct 2012 at 12:50 PM
First time we've been shown the roof since the winning submission. This 5th elevation and perhaps the most important elevation of the project looked like this:

I have to admit the building seems to be losing its magic. For most from the South, the first sight of Dundee's waterfront is arriving over the Tay Road Bridge. Hope there is a bit more consideration for the cap on this iceberg.
James Thomson
#11 Posted by James Thomson on 16 Oct 2012 at 12:55 PM
Frank Lloyd Wrong - I think the fundamental shift of the buildings site renders any argument about which scheme is 'still best' a little redundant. As much as I like the original KK proposals I think the concept is, at best, ruthlessly weakened, with the move to land.

Did one of the entries not suggest a floating scheme? Snohetta?

As for your final point, I think the fact that Dundee has, proactively, secured the interest of the project in the first place highlights the naivety of your stereotype...
Frank Lloyd Wrong
#12 Posted by Frank Lloyd Wrong on 16 Oct 2012 at 14:08 PM
@#11 - Lighten up Jimbo - as a Dundonian myself, it's not so much of a stereotype as an admission and one I don't mind poking fun at ourselves for.

Given that the estimates for engineering the plinth appear to have been woefully inaccurate and the stumbling block of the project to date, I hate to think what it would have cost for floating the underwhelming Snohetta scheme. All that money on a building which would hardly be seen at the best of times, and invisible at low tide.
Urban Designer
#13 Posted by Urban Designer on 16 Oct 2012 at 15:31 PM
The Council should abandon Nicoll Russel's hideous Stalinist station and hotel proposals and use the allocated £12 million to complete this project properly. Moving this building off the axis of the Discovery and Union Street renders the form of the building largely meaningless. Boo boos dont really come much bigger than this in this industry.
Rise Against
#14 Posted by Rise Against on 16 Oct 2012 at 17:31 PM
This project is an example of all that is wrong with Architecture and the method of building at this time. A pursuit of the iconic building that will save the city. A foreign Architect throwing a foreign body into the environment. A council throwing money at a building project in the hope that the Guggenheim effect will take place and 'revitalise' the city. The ignorance of the current economic climate through the idea of building out into the water. Ignorance of the poverty and social problems that exist within the city of Dundee. The failure of the Architect to recognise their responsibility.

Dundee is a thriving city and a much more sensitive approach to the riverside and future buildings would have served to enhance to the city experience. I for one fear that this opportunity has been missed.

Murphy's DCA shows what might have been. There is no need for a building to be iconic for it to be successful.
Trombe Wall
#15 Posted by Trombe Wall on 17 Oct 2012 at 13:26 PM
A dissapointing development, personally I don't think the original site should have been proposed in the first place. The masterplan provides great opportunties without the need to build outwards.

It now looks as if the existing pool should have been stripped back to the structure and offered as the competition. Sure it doesn't precisely tie in with the masterplan, but it would still offer plenty of scope for a museum at half the cost.
Jimmie Thomson
#16 Posted by Jimmie Thomson on 17 Oct 2012 at 13:37 PM
Fair enough FLW, the potential missed opportunity here has indeed worked up a little frustration for which I can only apologise.

I do however, still struggle to agree with most of your points, and as RA notes, a building doesn’t have to be iconic to be successful. I trust that the visitor predictions weren’t based too heavily on opportunist sightseers who noticed the building as they were half way over the Tay Bridge.

If there is a positive to be drawn from this, it may be that the move to a site on land will see the museum begin to inhabit some of the sites that, even in a better economic climate, may have been difficult to attract investment in and in turn connect back to the city centre.

Either build it on the water or don’t. The revisions to the scheme, as illustrated, look like an unfortunate compromise.
Mac Mac
#17 Posted by Mac Mac on 17 Oct 2012 at 15:20 PM
This has certainly created a good and proper debate. Unfortunately, like most architectural competitions in Scotland, the original winning designs do not get built as they were originally designed, there are many factors that govern this and too many to list. However should we as Architects be grateful that it is being built at all even if it is compromised. I have to agree with Trombe Wall that converting the structure of the Olympia pool should have been proposed in the first instance and saved the nations coffers to boot. I felt totally deflated when saw the six finalists, I was rooting for SHA as the only Scottish Architects alone on the short list....but the proposal of a nuclear power station was a big let down....maybe it was a joke that Dundee is a nuclear free zone....going off topic, apologies.
A quick question to those entering the George Square Competition in Glasgow; how many Council held Architectural Competitions in Glasgow have never been realised in the last 20 years?? Why waste your time and resources apart from exorcising those dreams of being a starchitect. Make future competitions realistic so that local aspiring Architects can have a chance and ditch the iconic pretence. The DCA is only successful because of a well run bar and restaurant, but without the other facilities Dundee would be very void of life and creative culture.
Urban Designer
#18 Posted by Urban Designer on 17 Oct 2012 at 18:33 PM
You have to laugh at bitter wee guys like Mac Mac making absolutely no sense with regards to cultural life in Dundee. Obviously he hasn't been to the McManus Galleries, Verdant Works, the Discovery, the Unicorn, Dundee Rep, Duncan of Jordanstone degree shows, or any of the award winning contemporary art shown at the DCA. Whilst the V and A design may be compromised a little it will still be the most exciting new public building in Scotland bar none. The series of Waterfront spaces being developed along one of Europe's finest river estuary settings will also be some of the most dramatic in in the country.
Aye Right
#19 Posted by Aye Right on 18 Oct 2012 at 00:26 AM
Sure #18 sure, if you say so.......... and Scotland is the best wee country in the world.
Mac Mac
#20 Posted by Mac Mac on 18 Oct 2012 at 06:56 AM
Mr Urban Designer, I stand corrected obviously and as I guess that you are not entitled to personal views I shall retract my last sentence, even though I do live in Dundee and have visited the above aforementioned.
Back on topic, I guess questions must be raised about the original KFA feasibility study promoting a building projecting out on the finest river estuary setting in Europe, was it ever feasible?? Someone has got their sums wrong. Only a full judicial enquiry will resolve this matter.
Why does Dundee have to put the word City into its domain name for the council web site??
Urban Designer
#21 Posted by Urban Designer on 18 Oct 2012 at 10:01 AM
Mac Mac why don't you think that I am entitled to my personal views, I have made them perfectly clear. Your reference to the use of the word City as part of the council's website is indeed very strange I would hazard a guess that it is because it is the official website for the City of Dundee. As with regards to the Tay Estuary, Enric Miralles described the site as one of the most dynamic in Europe, Stephen Fry describes Dundee's setting as the 'most ludicrously ideal' and any travel guide to Scotland makes reference to its stunning beauty. Of course Mac Mac and number 19 would like to believe that it is the biege Clyde, and that Glasgow is a World great City, and if that makes you happy well so be it.
Mac Mac
#22 Posted by Mac Mac on 18 Oct 2012 at 11:10 AM
The views out of Dundee are in fact fantastic, totally agree with you, I look out at them every day and marvel how lucky I am. The views from Wormit are equally stunning, especially at night, but when the sun rises it is a totally different perspective. We shall just have to wait another 20 years or so until the waterfront is completed before we can finally judge the merits of the MG's urban design. But at this moment in time, there is not one decent waterfront building to Dundee, I hope though that there will be at least one in 20 years time. Don't get me wrong, this investment is critical to the economic survival of Dundee.
The Clyde has its faults, namely a scattering of iconic buildings, but I would never state that the Tay is the beige Clyde!
#23 Posted by Caber on 18 Oct 2012 at 11:35 AM
Of course the Kengo Kuma scheme was unachievable within the competition budget. Only one scheme was achievable and properly costed, that of Sutherland Hussey and 3D Reid. Questions have to be asked about the competition brief and of the judging. The idea that the museum should be stuck out in the water principally so that it did not reduce the available land for commercial use was pretty stupid. It ended up locking the Discovery into a pond removing its real connection with the sea. The cost of the structure was always going to be too significant a proportion of the build cost given the limited budget for a building with so much ambition and so necessitated a simple and spare superstructure design. There was also a requirement to maintain a broad pathway around the building to maintain the promenade and engagement with the river. It is frankly shocking that the new proposal now totally blocks that route.

I believe compensation is due to the teams that submitted a competition scheme that actually and realistically met the brief and budget. It is also necessary to question the competition process as currently run in Scotland. Token honoraria for taking part are just no longer acceptable when judging blatantly ignores the rules and settles on winners with the prettiest model and ignores obviously flaky costings and lack of practicality in the construction proposals. All members of short listed or invited teams must be paid in full at commercial rates for the design efforts. With results like we have seen in Dundee anything else devalues and demeans the design efforts of the profession.
Steven Duffy
#24 Posted by Steven Duffy on 18 Oct 2012 at 11:42 AM
Surely , the need for a "clear" cycle route is a factor through the quayside?
In the next decade we would hope that cycle routes are more accessible in and around the city ,but it looks like it would stop at the V&A building located here.
Push the boat out and take it 10m or so further into the Tay , it's not as e defective inland.
Damned if you do.....
#25 Posted by Damned if you do..... on 18 Oct 2012 at 13:31 PM
I feel for the decision makers here. Whilst I acknowledge that it would be a massive disappointment to move the V&A inland, the decision to move or not to move is fraught with criticism either way.

Move it inland and the purists come out in force saying this is a disaster. Don't move it and the public outcry on overspending and the V&A becoming Dundee's scottish parliament will be rife.

I really like Kengo Kuma's design, moving it inland will be less attractive but not a show stopper. But thought does need put into how it will integrate into the wider masterplan and still appear floating, which some of the images suggest that this care is being taken. Brave decision, but will still be fantastic project for Dundee and Scotland.
#26 Posted by ray on 22 Oct 2012 at 10:53 AM
I think there is a simple design solution here Raise the building on a plinth so that it appears to be floating.Enter in through the base and up into the building. The cladding for the base could even be of a mirrored finish The building could still project over the water and the riverside walkway could continue and pass underneath and by the entrance. Get on with it guys it will look great Whats wrong with a nice piece of iconicism !
#27 Posted by Neil on 22 Oct 2012 at 12:02 PM
.....or lower Dundee?
Lee Wilkie
#28 Posted by Lee Wilkie on 23 Oct 2012 at 08:31 AM
.....or flatten Dundee?

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