The stunning design by Japanese-based architects Kengo Kuma and Associates was selected by an international jury as the choice for the V&A at Dundee following an extensive process of consultation and evaluation, including meeting with all the architects and their teams, visiting their existing buildings, and establishing the feasibility of the project to meet the tight timescales and budget.
The public's views were given serious attention in the process after thousands of individuals completed questionnaires and commented on the proposals. 15,000-plus people visited the exhibition and many more viewed it online.
Reaction to the six shortlisted proposals was not confined to the world of design but went right back to the man on the street - on the same day that Vogue.com ran an article on Kengo Kuma & Associates, the Dundee United Football Club supporters blog buzzed with positive opinion on the winning design.
The chosen design (which references the V&A at Dundee's celebrated neighbour, the RRS Discovery) is a striking building that will come to represent Dundee and has the potential to be one of Europe's most iconic buildings. Once built, the building itself will appear to 'float' on the water.
The building encloses 6230 square metres including gallery and exhibition spaces, working and design in action spaces, offices, and social areas.
Internally, flexible use of space is key, along with the ability to maximise the building's stunning position at every opportunity, creating a series of spaces that are either intimate or dynamic, depending on their purpose.
Light is a vital component of Kengo Kuma's design. All of the galleries will be illuminated by skylights on the roof and may be either completely darkened or only use artificial light, depending on the requirements of each exhibition.
One of the most important elements of the V&A at Dundee architectural brief was to create a building that met rigorous 21st century environmental and sustainability regulations. To this end, Kengo Kuma's design is not only beautiful and functional, but also fully sustainable and environmentally friendly in both build and maintenance.
The striking structural facade – composed of horizontal concrete bands clad in reconstituted stone – creates a dynamic texture, open to both natural light and ventilation. This banding also provides thermal mass - keeping the gallery spaces cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Reconstituted stone has the qualities of natural stone yet will be locally sourced, is more environmentally friendly, lower cost and higher performance.
The design of the building constantly maximises its amazing location. It is surrounded by a promenade providing an excellent vantage point to view the river, the City and the spectacular new museum itself. The signature restaurant and its panoramic terrace are cleverly positioned to offer spectacular views of both the Tay estuary and Tay Road Bridge. Terraces on the main museum floor open the public space to the outside and create several panoramic points of view from which to enjoy the beauty of the Tay landscape and its ever-changing light. These external spaces also provide the perfect backdrop for summer pavilions.
Central to the building's all-inclusive ethos is its monumental welcome hall, a multi-functional space suitable for a range of social events and activities - from concerts and workshops to large-scale installations and performance.
The V&A at Dundee shop will be a showcase for Scottish design talent. Located in the main hall it will provide a retail experience for visitors to purchase a range of items inspired by the various exhibits and events in the museum, including work from Design in Action practitioners.
Kengo Kuma & Associates is a medium-sized architectural practice founded in 1990 in Japan with European offices based in Paris. They are involved in a wide range of design disciplines from furniture and product design to architecture and urban scale planning. Kengo Kuma is a Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo and has won many awards, including the prestigious Architectural Institute of Japan Award (1997).
His goal is to recover the design of traditional buildings and to reinterpret this for the 21st century utilising the inspiration of light and nature to help achieve this. The essence of the approach is the use of natural materials in order to create airy, open spaces filled with sunlight. Kengo Kuma believes that their architecture must be flexible and open; structures must harmonize with and be 'friendly' towards the human body.