Kengo Kuma marks start of work on Dundee V&A museum

Kengo Kuma visited Dundee today to witness the official ceremony to mark start of construction work on the £80 million V&A museum.

More than seven years of planning, discussion and preparation have already gone into bringing the Japanese architect’s ambitious vision to fruition.

Diggers and bulldozers have been busily preparing the site for several months and today Mr Kuma was on hand to witness at first hand the start to building the “museum with a mission”.

The event was marked by the exchanging of gifts with the architect and Pipe Sergeant of the Arbroath Royal British Legion Pipe Band playing Bonnie Dundee.

The construction, which is taking place on the banks of the Tay in the heart of the city’s waterfront district, will be the first ever design museum to be built outside the UK.

It is also the first British building by Mr Kuma, a globally renowned architect who won the contract after being chosen by an international panel.

He was joined by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, representatives of the V&A Dundee project group, Dundee City Council and BAM Construction, which is carrying out the work.

Mr Kuma said: “It’s always a great pleasure to visit Scotland, a country I love very much. When I first arrived for the competition site visit in 2010, Dundee was a very different place.

“Already you can see the connection between the beautiful waterfront setting, the environment and the city is so much stronger.

“We are delighted that our vision for the V&A Dundee building, which was originally inspired by the breathtaking natural setting, is now starting to take physical shape, creating a real sense of place.

“We look forward to forging even closer links between the people and cultures of Japan and Scotland over the coming years as we create our first British building.”

Ms Hyslop said: “Kengo Kuma has set out a spectacular vision for V&A Dundee that heralds a bright future for Dundee as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design.

“Today work begins in earnest on a world-class design museum for the whole of Scotland and demonstrates our ambitions for Dundee as well as Scottish culture and tourism.

“Hundreds of thousands of visitors from far and wide will come to V&A Dundee to enjoy its world-class exhibitions.

“The benefits are much larger than the £11.4 million boost to the economy, V&A Dundee will showcase Scotland’s renowned design heritage, the talent of our nation and stimulate innovation to drive our economy forward.”

The project, which has been dubbed ‘The Guggenheim of Dundee’, is planned to be open to the public in June 2018.

Director of V&A Dundee Philip Long presented Mr Kuma with a commemorative silver vessel, privately commissioned for the ceremony as a contemporary take on a traditional Scottish quaich.

The vessel was created by Beth Henderson, a level 3 BDes Jewellery & Metal Design student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

Mr Kuma presented a sake bottle made of washi paper created through a project set up after the 2011 earthquake to help skilled craftsmen from the East Japan region to restore their business after the natural disaster.

The bottle was designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates and manufactured by Shiroishi Washi Koubou from the Miyagi Prefecture. The gift will eventually be displayed in the new design museum.

Initial work on site will include the creation of a coffer dam, and the installation of site hoardings.

Phillip Long said: “This is a special day, a historic moment for Dundee. We are beginning the construction of a new building that, through its design, already helps symbolise this city’s new confidence.

“As the building develops, day-by-day it will demonstrate Dundee’s growing ambition in a very real and physical way.

“We believe this is a project that has the potential to reshape our national landscape and be of benefit to all of us. We would like to thank everyone who has helped us reach this momentous day and we hope to keep all of our supporters and champions involved and inspired a long way into the future.”

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