V&A Dundee – Scotland’s first design museum

18th September 2018

Dundee’s dramatic new attraction, the V&A museum, is set to become a world class destination, as work connecting Scotland’s fourth largest city to its Waterfront, continues. Hardscape were privileged to supply the natural stone, both outside the building and also inside including the beautiful Carlow Blue limestone flooring and steps leading up to the galleries.

Part of a bigger plan

Dundee Waterfront’s £1billion regeneration, which involves 240 hectares of development land stretching 8km alongside the River Tay, is a major 30-year vision to transform the city into a world leading destination for visitors and businesses.

The £80.11million V&A Dundee is the flagship of the redevelopment scheme. Having opened on the 15th of September, it is expected to attract 350,000 visitors annually. This will propel the city into the limelight even further, after the city itself was voted number 5 on The Wall Street Journal’s ‘Hot Worldwide Destinations’ list for 2018, as well as GQ naming it Britain’s ‘Coolest Little City’ in 2015.

The opening weekend of the museum was a massive success, which included a 3D festival that was also expanded into Slessor Gardens, another Hardscape supplied project, where there was live music and activities on throughout the weekend.

Japanese design, Scottish inspiration

The striking three-storey building was designed by Japanese architecture firm Kengo Kuma, inspired by the rugged cliffs on the east coast of Scotland. The external areas of the museum feature plazas, large scale water features, and more intimate spaces for people to gather within and enjoy.

Explaining the concept behind the development, V&A Dundee project architect, Maurizio Mucciola, who worked for several years at Kengo Kuma & Associates and completed the project with his London-based practice PiM.studio Architects, says: “The main aim of the project and of our design was to re-connect the city centre of Dundee to its beautiful riverfront. During the initial design stages, we examined the evolution of the site and found that at one time it had been a dock. Reflecting upon its past as a port city was a crucial part of rethinking its future.” This again relates back to the focus and idea behind the initial £1billion investment – connecting the city to its waterfront.

A touch of Hardscape – inside and out

To go with the stunning vertical design of the building, there is also a strong complementary element of natural stone hard landscaping which is prominent in and around the museum’s landscape creating an overall beautiful aesthetic for visitors to see and relish.

Working closely with Optimised Environments (OPEN) Landscape Architects and contractors BAM and Careys, Hardscape supplied a variety of materials to the V&A Museum.

The majority of which was our Kobra granite in various forms. The paving was 300mm wide units x Varying lengths to give the plank like feature. The setts were 147 x 300mm to allow them to work dimensionally with the 300mm wide planks. There were also numerous Kobra Honed benches supplied across the site.

Hardscape’s Scotland Sales Manager, Aidan Baun, says: “The V&A Dundee was a project everyone at Hardscape cared a great deal about being involved in. It was a intricate and complex landscape scheme which we knew we were best placed to deliver on.

The scheme was designed using a variety of tightly laid granite planks and setts which subtly allowed for future loading areas without detracting from the overall finish.

There were 4 shallow ponds formed using in excess of 700 unique copings, cladding and tactile pieces to navigate the ever changing radii which sweep round the base of the buildings. More than 100 honed granite bench component pieces were also supplied. Given the complexity of the ponds and benches, Hardscape 3D-modelled every unit to ensure correct manufacturing.

Hardscape were also selected to supply our Carlow Blue Limestone internal tiling to the main entrance area and indoor steps of the museum and the outdoor terraces.

The Carlow material was laid in the same plank format as the external scheme and provides a depth of history to the Museum with fossils dating back 340 million years ago. It was a pleasure to be involved in a project where everyone was working cohesively to deliver to specification without compromise.”

This project highlighted that supplying to this iconic scheme and being involved in the design, drawings and production of the hard landscape materials and features was no simple feat and ultimately relied upon Hardscape’s experience, knowledge and attention to detail to get the job done and delivered on time.

The actual choice of materials for the project continued from a previous palette which Hardscape also supplied to – Slessor Gardens. This was another phase of the Dundee Waterfront regeneration and included a three granite blend in the carriageway comprising of Pheno Grey, Jinan Blue and Tezal.

A similar blend was also supplied to the recently completed Dundee Railway Station, just across the road from the Museum, which consisted of Kobra and Royal Grey granite paving as well as cladding. Again, proving the aesthetic consistency of hard landscape materials across the whole Waterfront.

More to come 

The regeneration doesn’t stop here! The Dundee Waterfront project will include cafes and restaurants while parkland, Slessor Gardens, will feature at the heart of the Central Waterfront.

There is a new civic space next to Caird Hall and further open space is to be established at the water’s edge – Waterfront Place. Within the waterfront, dedicated space for wildlife includes an extensive wildlife corridor alongside the East Coast Railway and the Riverside Nature Park both within the Riverside Zone. Other plans for the area include an urban beach featuring a café, boardwalk and pine trees and work is due to start later this year.

Client: Victoria and Albert MuseumArchitects: Kengo Kuma & Associates, Japan; Landscape Architects: Optimised Environments (OPEN), Edinburgh; Contractor: BAM; Sub-contractor: Carey’s; Paving materials supplier: Hardscape

Images courtesy of Hardscape and Chris Wilson, Communications Manager V&A Dundee.