Our building

The exterior of V&A Dundee

Our extraordinary building is a testament to great design

Standing as a stunning symbol of great design and innovation, V&A Dundee showcases Scotland's rich design heritage from within a striking, angular facade that mirrors the rugged cliffs of the country's coastline.

The architect

V&A Dundee was designed by renowned award-winning Japanese architects Kengo Kuma & Associates, following an international competition, and is Kuma’s first building in the UK. Considered by many as the quintessential Japanese architect of today, Kuma also designed the stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Kuma’s vision for V&A Dundee was that it will be a welcoming space for everyone to visit, enjoy and socialise in – a 'living room for the city' – and a way of reconnecting the city to its historic River Tay waterfront. Along with V&A Dundee, Kuma is involved in a number of large, ongoing projects, including arts centres in Besançon and Granada.

Kuma’s design for the building began with a sketch. His work always seeks harmony with nature, saying of V&A Dundee that ‘it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape’.

Kuma’s design responds to the unique waterfront site, once the hub of Dundee’s maritime industries and then the Olympia Leisure Centre.

The building

The building consists of two structures, shaped like upside-down pyramids. They are separate on the ground floor and twist to meet on the top floor. This meeting point forms a tunnel, creating a frame and route through which the city and the river are reconnected.

Curving concrete walls (there are no straight external walls) hold 2,500 pre-cast rough stone panels, weighing up to 3000 kg each and spanning up to 4m wide, to create the appearance of a Scottish cliff face. There are 21 separate wall sections. V&A Dundee is an impressive 8,000m² building, with 1,650m² of gallery space.

After a Low and Zero Carbon Technologies study was undertaken in 2011 as part of the project’s BREEAM obligation to identify the most appropriate form of renewable energy for the building, geothermal energy was identified as the solution.

Thirty 200-metre deep bore holes form part of this system for the heating and cooling of the building, supplemented by air source heat pumps on the roof. These provide direct renewable energy for the museum, with 800,000 kWh/annum of heating and 500,000 kWh/annum of cooling.

Construction of the building was led by Dundee City Council, with project management from Turner & Townsend. The total cost of design, construction and fit-out is £80.11m.

The waterfront

Beyond its curved walls, V&A Dundee is reconnecting the city with its beautiful and historic riverside. The museum is at the heart of a £1 billion waterfront transformation, an ambitious 30-year project that is propelling the city towards an improved future.

A render of V&A Dundee building


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image that represent two pages of V&A dundee website