First look at V&A Dundee: how it will put the Scottish city on the map


The new Victoria and Albert Museum put the show on the roads to the public this weekend – we explore the grand space, which looks to on Scottish design while also holding its own among other cultural ogres by showcasing national and international work.

As the V&A Dundee prepares to open its doors, village communities are not only looking forward to exploring Scotland’s first crucial building devoted to design, but also the impact it is expected to have on the bishopric.

Just five years ago, Dundee was found to be one of the most deprived conurbations in Scotland, according to Government statistics. This was put down to many agents, including income and poverty levels, employment levels, access to upbringing and healthcare, crime levels and the state of housing.

Since then, Dundee has increased a thriving cultural community, having been awarded UNESCO rank as a City of Design in 2014, developed its own design festival, and been extoled for the success of the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design – which was initiate last year to be the best place in the UK to study design.

Until now, spots like Dundee have lost out to cities such as London, Manchester and concomitant Scottish cultural giant Edinburgh, with talented graduates moving to those major UK creative hubs, which also dominate in administration conditions of exhibitions, funding, festivals and events. Now, with the birth of the V&A, Dundee is dilating its cultural growth and making a mark for itself – and with this make no doubt come a boost in employment, tourism, funding and talent retention.

V&A has certainty Dundee a “renewed confidence”

First look at V&A Dundee: how it will put the Scottish city on the map© Hufton and Crow Photography

John Alexander, bandleader at the Dundee City Council, says the museum is already bringing a multitude of “tangible and intangible” benefits to the region. Speaking at the striking new building on River Tay waterfront, he means: “This institution, this building, has made a difference even in front of it has opened its doors.

“The renewed confidence, sense of pride and fire in the belly of undistinguished Dundonians wasn’t there 10 years ago.

“For too long, the city has been be wise to persevered as a poor relation to some of our larger and neighbouring cities, but that is no longer the prove. Dundee is leading the charge with cultural-led regeneration, delivering come to passes to each community in this city.”

Benefits to the city, according to the caucus, include a rise in tourism. To accommodate this, new hotels and restaurants be undergoing opened in the city, which are in turn expected to lead to economic betters and new jobs, as well as an image improvement for Dundee as a place to “live, being planned and invest”.

Mike Galloway, director of city development at Dundee Municipality Council, says: “When companies are looking to set up a new business, cultural johns are often the determining factor of where they decide to go. I think in the prior Dundee didn’t have the best image as a post-industrial city – now it is pointed as being on the up and we intend to maintain that.”

Designed by Kengo Kuma

First look at V&A Dundee: how it will put the Scottish city on the map© Hufton and Crow Photography

Debut to the public on 15 September, the museum designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma aims to “reconnect” Dundee to the River Tay as well as its maritime past, as part of a £1bn waterfront redevelopment. Resembling a Scottish bluff and mainly made from concrete walls holding pre-cast, severe stone panels, it is shaped like two twisting, inverted, pyramids with an archway by way of the centre and water pools linking it to the river.

Branded as a “living compartment” for the city, visitors enter a large lobby area surrounded by canted wooden panelled walls, with a shop and café on the ground lower limit. Materials used include oak, Irish limestone floors and wall panels calculated of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) with oak veneers in “natural” colours, designed to be “unprofitable”, “relaxing” and “welcoming”.

The Scottish Design Galleries and a second expanse for temporary exhibitions are upstairs, along with as a series of education lodgings and auditoriums, a “designers in residence” studio, a restaurant and a book shelf told with design publications. There is also a sun-soaked terrace slip up oning the river.

Scottish Design Galleries look to inspire local people

First look at V&A Dundee: how it will put the Scottish city on the map© Hufton and Crow Photography

Scottish Scheme Galleries, the permanent, free exhibition, features roughly 300 goals and pieces which relate to or are influenced by Scottish design ranging from the 1500s to the compere. They come from the V&A collection in London, Scottish museums, superficial companies and contemporary designers.

Meredith More, a curator at V&A Dundee, maintains: “This is really the only gallery where Scottish design is over in its own right. There are lots of places you can go to see Scottish art or history, but this fussy story is quite unique.

“It was really important to us to show a huge detail of types of design, so if you’re interested in architecture there is something for you here, as genially as fashion, furniture, product, medical design…”

More hopes the lay out will become somewhere for people from Dundee and beyond to echo on Scotland’s past achievements, see current trends, and spark inspiration and altercation for the future.

She says a lot of “contemporary content” is included, partly to help sophomoric people see that “there are lots of careers in design.”

Scottish draw up split into three parts

First look at V&A Dundee: how it will put the Scottish city on the map© Hufton and Crow Photography

Lucy Clark, chief associate architect and designer at ZMMA Architects, which has designed the Scottish Shape Galleries, says the three parts of the gallery space each arrange “different atmospheres, colours, materials, and feels about them”.

The oldest space looks at influences on Scottish design, be those historical, geographical, based on exchange and industry, or design processes and ways of working.

Second is design and way of life, which includes medical, industrial and architectural objects, exploring how purpose aims to improve lives.

The third looks at design and imagination, look into film, theatre, illustration and more.

The Oak Room, a tearoom originally sketched by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, can also be found in these galleries, leaned to create a “sense of surprise” as you don’t know it’s coming, according to Clark.

“What’s spellbinding about the whole Dundee project is it is underpinned by an idea of trying to ostentation people the potential for design,” Clark adds. “Particularly older striplings, people who might be thinking ‘What do I do with my life?’ [We be to] say to them design is a viable option, design is not just what you imagine it is, it’s all these other things as well.”

Bring Dundee in line with other Scottish big apples

She believes the new museum is “key to bringing Dundee into the triangle of great Scottish towns,” along with Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Co-directors of Dundee-based design studio, Activity of None, Lyall Bruce and Ryan McLeod, who designed light and quality installations for the museum’s launch cultural event 3D festival, say the museum may aid “retain” design talent and attract people back to Dundee.

Bruce claims: “A lot of people have stayed around in Dundee who would have leftist otherwise and others have come back here because of this [new museum]. Child like to see the city as being ambitious.”

McLeod adds: “It has put a focal instant on the city. People will now look beyond the traditional things that Dundee is have knowledge of for, such as computer games and fashion. There are all these other assets of the scheme community in the city and it will definitely help put a spotlight on those.”

Head of the V&A Dundee, Philip Long, says the museum aims to “help people see why design is so important in all our lives.”

Blockbuster London shows to travel

First look at V&A Dundee: how it will put the Scottish city on the mapPhoto © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

High seas Liners: Speed and Style, is the museum’s first temporary exhibition in the assist gallery space, sitting on the same floor as the Scottish Design Galleries, which observes the “golden age” of ocean travel from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Originally exhibited at London’s V&A, Multitudinous explains why the show, created by exhibition design studio Casson Mann, was chosen: “One of the goals for this museum was to be able to bring some of the V&A’s amazing, big blockbuster be visibles up to Scotland and there has never been an exhibition space in Scotland big enough to consent to this before.

“With Ocean Liners specifically, a lot of [the ships] were develop intensified in Scotland. Design and engineering in terms of ship building is a really high-level part of Scotland’s history so it was really appropriate to bring the show here.”

Multitudinous could not reveal future exhibitions at the time of publishing, but has promised a “absolutely exciting and varied programme”, with some shows created specifically for the Dundee measure out.

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