Kengo Kumas V&A in Dundee

Ship or Whale


After a protracted process, a period of eight years, that has not been spared its dose of controversy (in 2015 it was announced that the building’s real cost would exceed the initially budgeted amount of 50 million euros by a good 70%), Scotland’s own outpost of the Victoria & Albert Museum has now opened in Dundee. Because of its sculptural form and sensitive site, the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s first built work in the United Kingdom is bound to be instrumental in revitalizing the Scottish city’s riverfront, although its most prominent characteristic is its material makeup. Some 2,500 prefabricated pieces of concrete make up the facade, which changes in appearance with weather conditions and gives a nuance, without annulling it, to the image suggested by the building’s unique shape: that of a broken-down old ship stuck at a wharf, or perhaps that of an enormous deconstructed whale.

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