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V&A Dundee costs balloon to £80m

January 16 2015

V&A Dundee costs balloon to £80m
The estimated cost of delivering Dundee’s waterfront V&A museum has nearly doubled from £45m to £76.16m as contractor BAM Construction faces up to the reality of the ‘unique’ challenges presented by the build.

These include bid inflation within the building industry since the project was first conceived and an underestimate of the expense entailed in delivering the shell and cladding as specified.

The inflation-busting price hike would necessitate scraping together an additional £22m of funding from the Scottish Government, £4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £6.6m from private donors. Dundee City Council would itself commit a further £6.5m.

Attempting to explain the hike Dundee development director Mile Galloway said: “The building is structurally formed with a concrete shell which is cast on site. The cost of that process and the work associated with that was much higher than anticipated.

"Prior to going to tender we had consulted with major contractors and sought their advice, so not only was it a surprise to us, it was a surprise to them."

Councillors will decide whether to go ahead with the cherished project or go back to the drawing board on 26 January, with delivery not now expected before summer 2018 – if at all.


Trombe Wall
#1 Posted by Trombe Wall on 16 Jan 2015 at 15:38 PM
The regeneration of Dundee needs this building to happen, which I’m confident it will, surely. The increase in cost is unsurprising, given the protracted nature of the dialogue over this particular building. Surely the onus is on the project team to deliver as close to the bid winning scheme as possible – increasing the budget is a good start and I hope this won’t lead to a diluted piece of architecture.
I’d be interested to understand better what actually ‘unique’ challenges BAM face? It’s a waterfront museum with an in-situ concrete frame? Perhaps we should have tried applying for a Change of Use to the Olympia?
D to the R
#2 Posted by D to the R on 16 Jan 2015 at 17:22 PM
Surprise Surprise ?!? Never a £40m building .... Who does these cost forecasts? Michael Fish?
Andrew Broon
#3 Posted by Andrew Broon on 16 Jan 2015 at 18:12 PM
The current proposal is nothing like what was first conceived , with only a toe now in the water rather than the original idea of full feet. They should just start again with a new concept fitting with the original budget rather than trying to deliver a more expensive water downed building.
#4 Posted by LittleChantelle on 16 Jan 2015 at 22:58 PM
mumble mumble concrete modernist brigade mumble mumble waste of money mumble mumble Quinlain Terry mumble mumble
#5 Posted by Archimum on 17 Jan 2015 at 18:58 PM
What a ridiculous waste of ,oney. Typical case of massive egos pushing on a project that would be better scrapped and re-considered. Think of how many more community based arts and cultural opportunities could be generated on fixed modest budgets of a few million each
#6 Posted by Designer on 18 Jan 2015 at 16:22 PM
#5 Were you also calling for the abolishment of the Commonwealth Games venues, The Glasgow Transport Museum, and The Scottish Parliament ? Or is OK for the TAX payers money to be continually thrown at the central belt but not Dundee, which will benefit to a tune of an extra £11.3 million pounds to the local economy each year this building is open. The complaining from the naysayers and haters has nothing to do about an additional £22 million pounds borrowed from the Government, but everything to do with the Dundee getting the country's finest new building instead of your town. Enric Mirralles described Dundee's waterfront as the most dynamic site in Europe. It is only fitting that it has a building to do it justice.
#7 Posted by Roddy on 18 Jan 2015 at 19:00 PM
This project has disaster written all over it
I'm betting this wil be donkeys late and miles over the "revised" budget
Should be scrapped before we waste any more money on a big white elephant
boaby wan
#8 Posted by boaby wan on 19 Jan 2015 at 10:30 AM
@Designer - too many blue smarties this morning?
Bit of an over reaction there, given that most of the comments are that either the budget should increase or the building redesigned to meet the budget so that the end product is not compromised...
#9 Posted by stef3d on 19 Jan 2015 at 10:33 AM
This has been on the cards from the start, since the client disregarded budget completely when picking the winning design. Having worked closely with one of the losing teams on the submission I can tell you that they were not pleased, having tailored their design approach around minimising construction costs to meet the tight budget constraints. That said, I really hope they can get this project built as it will be a great boost to the city.
#10 Posted by Dahdooron on 20 Jan 2015 at 11:18 AM
Quoting from BD -"a spokesman for Dundee Design, which also includes the city council, Scottish Enterprise as well as Dundee and Abertay universities, said: “Each proposal was subject to exhaustive scrutiny and we did not have to exclude any of the submissions on grounds of affordability. We are confident we will deliver a building very much in keeping with Kengo Kuma’s original proposal.”
To many professionals it was obvious from the outset that this was never a £45m project. Regardless of the final outcome an enquiry is necessary and those responsible should be brought to task for the serious mismanagement of this shameful situation. Can the people of Dundee be confident of the team to deliver now....?
#11 Posted by Marra on 20 Jan 2015 at 14:16 PM
...and how underwhelming it now looks, especially in the above render. It looks dwarfed next to the existing domed discovery building (which isn't a large building) and the proposed mall/ apartments in the background.

Double the cost for half the original concept?
#12 Posted by james on 20 Jan 2015 at 15:05 PM
With reference to Zaha Hadid's 'new' landmark Glasgow Transport Museum, in the end, it all just works out as a very expensive design for a postage stamp. Dundee would be better placed using what money they have for a good piece of graphic design celebrating the V&A in Dundee, pay off the design team, scrapping this signature/ landmark building design and housing and displaying the artefacts in a Sainsbury Centre-style 'hangar' that can actually accommodate the amount of visits the collection will generate and be done with it. ther. just like that - save us all the wrangle.
tony reynolds
#13 Posted by tony reynolds on 15 Aug 2015 at 13:08 PM
undemocratic/ unwanted all items to be displayed in v and a are avalible to study online .undemocratic Dundee never ask electorate.people on project are incompetent as simple as .
Strathmartine Lad
#14 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 18 Nov 2016 at 11:46 AM
Marra - that is the first time I have heard the building called "underwhelming". I can't wait for you to see it fully built.
Tony Reynolds - I must disagree with your comments about all items within V&A Dundee being already available to study online - this is incorrect. A large proportion of the objects due to be displayed have never been seen by the public. V&A Dundee will allow access to these collections like never before, and for those who don't have access to the internet too. People in Dundee have been consulted every step of the way, and continue to be involved leading up to opening in Summer 2018 - just get in touch to find out what they are doing! Finally, I can promise you that those working on the project are far from incompetent!
tony reynolds
#15 Posted by tony reynolds on 17 Jan 2017 at 19:51 PM
undemocratic project WaStE oF MONEY AND EXPENSIVE TO KEEP all itEMS AVALABILE ONLINE FOR STUDY LAST thing dundee needed was museum we had one it was not broken so why fix it . are they aware WE CANT AFFORD THESE MAN CONCRETE PROJECTS THAT DO NOT BENIFIT ORDINARY PEOPLE OF DUNDEE.
Strathmartine Lad
#16 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 29 Jan 2017 at 16:29 PM
Fully entitled to opinions Tony, but please check facts before posting!

1. The majority of items are NOT available for study online. If you find links to even half of the objects within the Scottish Design Galleries online, please share. There will also be huge travelling exhibitions that have never been to Scotland before. And those in Dundee will be the first to have the opportunity to see them. How special is that?!

2. We CAN afford it. Think positive! The money has been raised and I for one haven't noticed the price of milk, housing, council tax or childcare costs increasing. The vast majority of the cost to build V&A Dundee has come from outwith the city - so much so that Dundee City Council is only paying for 8% of the project. Therefore, V&A Dundee is not costing the city, it is investment IN the city and will be generating revenue and bringing in visitors. Even by the most conservative estimates, the anticipated increase in visitors cannot be anything other than a good things for Dundee.

3. Dundee does have several fantastic museums, however V&A Dundee is something DIFFERENT. The first museum of DESIGN to be built in the UK, outside London and a one-of-a-kind museum in Scotland. It's not replacing anything; it something else, free and for the benefit of everyone. Which leads me onto point 4...

4. Not only will it benefit the "ordinary" people of Dundee, it already is! Have a look at the V&A Dundee website to see how they are working to improve peoples lives, working with schools, children and families, supporting community activities, charities, third sector organisations and local businesses. It turns the idea a transitional museum on its head - and the building hasn't even opened yet.

If every city decided that one museum was enough, the UK would be a lot poorer for it. This is a fantastic opportunity for those in Dundee and across Scotland to embrace the new which can be scary sometimes, but also massively exciting. A museum is so much more than a building - it is a living, breathing part of the community, that contributes to the wellbeing of everyone, if they just are willing to look at it with an open mind.
tony r
#17 Posted by tony r on 30 Jan 2017 at 10:00 AM
last comments still stand undemocratic waste of taxpayers money and all items mostly online for study or soon will be.
Bobby WooMac
#18 Posted by Bobby WooMac on 30 Jan 2017 at 13:57 PM
@Tony R and Tony Reynolds

Undemocratic has become a meaningless buzz word recently. Surely you voted in your local government election? Then the elected local government then made a decision they were elected to do, no? Not every decision needs to go to a yes/no referendum.
Strathmartine Lad
#19 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 31 Jan 2017 at 12:50 PM
Hi Tony,

I'm glad you agree with all the other points. However, the objects within V&A Dundee are NOT available for study online - many of them aren't even in museums and some haven't even been seen by the public before. Remember, this isn't just a branch of the V&A - this is something new. Unless you are aware of every object that will be displayed (and that is something that surely only the curators and staff are aware of), then how can you confidently state that they are available for study online? And even if some of them were, then surely it more interesting to see them in reality, rather than on a computer screen. When you think about it, if that is your argument, should we remove the world's finest paintings from the world's art galleries, close all our heritage sites and cancel all theatrical productions and musical performances purely because we can see these with a quick "Google" or on YouTube?
#20 Posted by tony on 14 Feb 2017 at 20:52 PM
i did not agree with any points raised i still think dundee could have something more usefull to draw visitors to dundee and bring investment i cant see how another museum would do this. it was still undemocratic desision to spend any grants ect.. on a museum . also water levels are forecast rise. and proposed defences are a joke especially broughty ferrys proposed defence
Strathmartine Lad
#21 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 16 Feb 2017 at 09:00 AM
Hi Tony,

That's a shame! I thought I was getting somewhere! You must agree with my point about the objects NOT being available for study online, though? Surely?!

Can you define a "museum", because I think that you are missing a wider point about what V&A Dundee aims to do? As for how V&A Dundee will draw visitors in, I think that being the first museum of design to be built in the UK outside London is a huge draw, not to mention the temporary exhibitions. There is nowhere else in Scotland that can host them in their entirety. If even the most conservative figures are used, we are talking like some 200,000 people visiting each year and I challenge you to deny that this can be anything other than a positive for the city.

V&A Dundee is - as I have stated previously - something unique. This is an museum that has many different facets, working with schools, professionals, businesses, local charities, community organisations and the health and social care sector. The programmes are supporting people to live healthier lives, promoting education for our young people, assisting adults living with dementia, and providing more free opportunities for our local communities to get involved in meaningful projects. Does this carry no value for you? Do you feel that one museum is enough for a city?

The grant money coming in to Dundee was specifically for this project, so it was therefore not a DECISION to spend the money on V&A Dundee, it was BECAUSE of V&A Dundee that the money came in in the first place. And that money is being invested into the museum so it can benefit local people. Again, I'd direct you to their website to see just how much they have already been doing, and the delight that it is bringing people.

Already, over the last five years, Dundee has changed dramatically, so who knows what might follow V&A Dundee. What would you like to see to bring in more people to the city? I'm genuinely interested.

Finally, you mention flood defenses; I'm not sure how widely publicisied it was, but part of BAM Construction's remit during the construction of V&A Dundee has also been to raise and strengthen the river wall to protect the city against rising sea levels and flooding. There is also a huge amount of sustainable urban drainage (most noticeably, the large trough near the APEX Hotel), so this HAS been factored in to the wider waterfront proposals. I can't speak for what's going on in Broughty Ferry, but that's taking the issue away from V&A Dundee.

#22 Posted by tony on 19 Feb 2017 at 11:20 AM
you do talk unfactually and you do talk rubbish points i raised still stand remember it was tax payers money were they asked no undemocratic therefore undemocratic desision . and grants to build concrete structure and run it are not going to be enough at current unbiased accounts of project cost. you do talk rubbish s/lad. also projected cost to finish is well over 100 million thats without running costs included or your imaginary flood defences which s/lad seems to think have been accounted for this is not true are you not aware dundee council cutting help to elderly and disabled people old people wardens ect.. and have to make cuts of millions becuse of the usery situation usa and uk find themselfs in
Strathmartine Lad
#23 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 20 Feb 2017 at 16:42 PM
First and foremost, what's a "usery situation"? I think that needs a little clarification. And what is America’s financial system got to do with V&A Dundee? But we’re getting away from the crux of the issue.

The backbone of your argument now seems to revolve around V&A Dundee being entirely funded by the taxpayers. As human beings we pay taxes – it’s an unavoidable fact. That tax goes to a variety of things; education, the NHS, defence, leisure, infrastructure, local services, transport etcetera. I don’t know about you, but I am not personally consulted on every spending decision that is made. By your rationale, is the provision of a new hospital, school or bypass “undemocratic”? Is EVERYTHING that you are not asked about “undemocratic”? To second Bobby WooMac’s post on the 30th January, you (hopefully) voted in your local government election – as much as it would be nice to consult everyone on every decision in their local area, the sad fact is that it’s just not practical.

However (and this is a big ‘un), V&A Dundee is NOT being funded by the taxpayer. In a statement, V&A Dundee themselves are more than happy to point out that only £6.5m is coming from Dundee City Council. As part of an £80.1m project, that works out as 8.11% of the total cost. So – using that statistic – that means that nearly 92% of the total cost (and it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that that is a pretty hefty percentage!) is being funded by sources from OUTWITH the city, in other words, NOT the taxpayer! V&A Dundee is now a fixed price contract awarded to BAM to the tune of £80.1 million, so to say that it is costing £100m is, to use your turn of phrase, a “rubbish point”.

I think that we are all aware of the cuts to our local services, so why not have a look to see how this museum is already addressing some of those issues? They are developing work to support adults living with dementia, they are running programmes to benefit those living with disabilities, they are working with schools to support the education of some of the city’s poorest families. The exciting things is that £80.1 million is going towards the very issues you talk about, but rather than the money going through a hospital, a traditional community centre or school, it is going through a museum.

Running costs of the flood defences? It’s a wall. What running costs are you imagining?! And if - as you point out - the flood defenses are not true, why HAS the river wall been raised, or that large trough near the APEX been created?

And finally, a point that you have brought up in three separate posts now - but not conceded - is that all objects within V&A Dundee are available to study online. If this is the case, can you please post at least ten links in the next post to these objects? There’ll be an awful lot more than ten objects within the Scottish Design Galleries, obviously, but I thought that’d give you a fighting chance.
Sarah Blackburn
#24 Posted by Sarah Blackburn on 2 Mar 2017 at 16:59 PM
i think that V&A Dundee is going to be great and glad to hear strathmartine lad giving facts while tony only repeats lame point after point. he has no answers to anything. this is going to be great for the city and we need more positivity as this amazing project moves closer to completion
tony renolds
#25 Posted by tony renolds on 5 Mar 2017 at 13:53 PM
s/l museum is not going to solve anything we have good museums and museum stock and gallerys all of whick are excellent.. so why do we need a museum .i have never had a answer to that and also you mention disabled people gaining employment if money was used for something like that we would not be disscusing a museum . my screen name tony reynolds not tony
Strathmartine Lad
#26 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 6 Mar 2017 at 09:21 AM
Apologies Tony Reynolds, I didn’t think we were being so formal!

However, niceties aside, once again you are skirting round the issue. I am asking you direct questions and you simply have no answers. For example, in post number 13, you state that “all items to be displayed in v and a are avalible [your spelling – not mine] to study online” yet have not been able to post a single one. Can you share links to ten items in the next post? I doubt it.

You’ve also not been able to find actual facts to back up your claim that V&A Dundee is being entirely funded by the taxpayer. Was your claim true? Yes or no? If so, prove it.

At no point have I ever said that V&A Dundee is going to SOLVE the city’s problems. However, this is a step in the right direction. To answer why do we need a museum, well, isn’t it obvious? Why do cities have art galleries, theatres, hospitals, schools? It’s something else that provides positive services for the population. You’re absolutely correct, Dundee DOES have many great museums – so why not build on this and make the offering EVEN better. Should a city not strive to offer more amazing opportunities things for it’s citizens?

People (locals, surprisingly) often complain that there isn’t enough to do in Dundee – that it’s not a destination for people and there’s nothing to make people stay in this fabulous little city. Are you saying that – actually – there is TOO MUCH to do in Dundee?

V&A Dundee is also – as I have repeatedly pointed out – something different. It’s not like Dundee’s other museums. It’s got the largest temporary exhibition space IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY. That’s a reason right there! For the very first time, massive travelling exhibitions will be able to come to Scotland – a massive plus for both locals and tourists. If this was a carbon copy of McManus, you’d be right to wonder what the point of it all was. But – as I had hoped was obvious – this is not like the other museums we already have.

Museums offer places for inspiration and education – for everyone. They offer a place to relax, a place of escapism, of enjoyment and socialising. (some more reasons there too). Museums support local services, and – from what I have read – V&A Dundee is doing a considerable amount to support local charities. Just have a look at this:

I mentioned “programmes to benefit those living with disabilities” – in your opinion, is this not a worthy cause? In terms of employment opportunities for those living with disabilities, I am sure that V&A Dundee is an equal opportunities employer, and with over 200 new jobs being created, is this also – in your opinion – not a good thing?

I’ve been good enough to answer your questions – now perhaps you can do me the same courtesy.
#27 Posted by tony on 18 Mar 2017 at 15:08 PM
s/lad you can find out about facts yourself about tax point raised funding ect... also i did not point out as you suggested that visiting exhibitions ect .. items would be on websites of v and a for study .. and my question has not been answered why do we need an other museum and point about flood defences on coast is relevant . but i am all for anygood it may do for people . but still think money should have been spent on flood defences you dont seem well informed do you do any research ?? i will leave now as you dont seem to have a answer so i wont waste any more time.
Strathmartine Lad
#28 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 18 Mar 2017 at 18:50 PM
Oh Dear Tony. It looks like you’ve finally run out of arguments. I think maybe calling a halt here is wise before you embarrass yourself any further. It’s a shame, as I had hoped you would have had better arguments rather than just ignoring anything I’ve said.

You are absolutely right – I HAVE found out the facts myself, and it turns out that V&A Dundee is NOT being paid for by the taxpayers. That’s one arguments of your shattered, although I am glad you can see the good work V&A Dundee is already doing.

You are still denying that you said that all items are available online. I’m afraid that it’s right up there in post 13, 15 and 17. And – again – this is another argument that you have been unable – or unwilling – to prove.

If Dundee floods before V&A Dundee opens, then I will swallow my words, however flood defenses HAVE been considered as part of BAM’s remit, and as part of the wider waterfront project – as several members of the waterfront team have been able to demonstrate.

I think it’s actually laughable that you say I don’t answer your questions, but I’m patient, so I’ll try one more time: V&A Dundee has the largest temporary exhibition space anywhere in the country allowing huge travelling exhibitions to come to Scotland. No other museum in Scotland can do that. That is just ONE of the many reasons we should have a new museum.

You want an answer, that’s one right there, and it’s a 1100sqm fact that’s impossible to deny. You know how I know that the floor area is 1100sqm? I did some research, so am – by all accounts – rather well informed.
Dundee Cake
#29 Posted by Dundee Cake on 20 Mar 2017 at 11:05 AM
Why does it look like a BIG BULKIN BLACK BORG BEETLE at the moment?
Strathmartine Lad
#30 Posted by Strathmartine Lad on 21 Mar 2017 at 08:21 AM
Hi Dundee Cake - the reason for V&A Dundee looking as you describe is due to the exposed dark concrete walls that will shortly start to be clad in the huge horizontal pre-cast façade elements, covered in a rough stone aggregate. These will be much lighter than the concrete and will give V&A Dundee it’s final appearance. The concrete is a darker mix than normal to emphasise the shadow gaps between these bands. Each of the façade elements can be adjusted to create the twisting shape of the building, smoothing out some of the harder angles that you see now.
Bobby mactackle
#31 Posted by Bobby mactackle on 14 Sep 2018 at 20:03 PM
Could build house alot of houses for 80 million what about the cost of running the place total waste of money it's a vanity project.They have put aside 10 million for the new Dundee Caribbean carnival tin drum kilt and short bread society street party.
#32 Posted by tony on 26 Jun 2021 at 18:38 PM
well strathmartin lad like i said v and a was a waste of money .... and only costs,, money should have been used to help poor and unfortunate looks like some sort of weird temple. and is not free.
bob smith
#33 Posted by bob smith on 25 Jul 2021 at 16:50 PM
v and a is funded by tax payer and all item images avalible on line running cost are from tax payer to ...old dundee museum is much better and educational and area were it is is due to flood and city centre low lying areas ... flood barrier no good as will come from underground and end s of flood wall in the working model same fate as new york and other areas .... start moving things now................. god bless all strathmartin lad are you dead..?
bob smith
#34 Posted by bob smith on 22 Feb 2023 at 14:23 PM
dundee museum in centre of town exellent nice cafe visited v and a also waste of time looks terrible looks like satanic temple will rot quick with salt and water dont waste your time at v and a......dundee museum was good cafe was exelenttie..

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