Seven years after being appointed to mastermind the centrepiece project of the city’s Â£1 billion waterfront regeneration, Kengo Kumo finally saw his vision realised on the banks of the River Tay today.
He toured the construction site of the Â£80.11 million project, which is now being fitted out ahead of its much-anticipated opening next summer, to inspect the building.
Its striking design, which has been compared to an upturned ship, is said to have been inspired by the cliff-faces that Kuma, who is also working on Tokyo’s stadium for the 2020 Olympics, found on the east coast of Scotland.
The cost of the project may have early doubled since his design won an international competition and its opening may be four years later than originally envisaged, but Kuma said he was “delighted and satisfied” with what had now been achieved.
Making his first visit to the site for more than a year and a half, the architect said: “The realisation of the strong façade is great. We were able to express the dynamic scale of the interior, too – just as we had planned.
“My inspiration always starts from the place where the project will be. In the past I visited Scotland many times, this very beautiful country, and I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature.
“I really hope once finished this project will attract many people from the UK, and around the world, to the city and the museum. I hope as well that people from Dundee will use it as an everyday part of their city; that they will go there to enjoy the building with its surrounding public space and find a harmonious relationship between the museum, the riverside, the city and themselves.”
A temporary cofferdam, which has allowed Kuma’s museum to “jut out” into the Tay, has been removed, while 2500 cast stone panels have been hung onto the exterior walls of the museum.
It is hoped that Kuma’s building, which rises up to 60 feet tall, will help Dundee’s bid to be crowned a European Capital of Culture in 2023, which is competing with Leeds, Nottingham, Belfast and Milton Keynes.
Philip Long, who was appointed director of V&A Dundee six years ago and was at the helm when its planned opening was put back until 2018 due to the soaring budget, said: “It is a real pleasure to have the architect of V&A Dundee with us today to see the incredible progress that has been made in bringing his vision to life.
“Everyone working on the design and construction should be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved.
“We have been out in communities across Scotland since 2014 with talks, workshops and exhibitions, meeting thousands of people and sharing our passion for the importance of design. We can’t wait to welcome everyone when we open the museum next year.”
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said: “I’s fantastic to have Kengo Kuma here to cast his expert eye over this amazing feat of engineering, particularly as V&A Dundee moves closer to completion.
“V&A Dundee is a very visible and tangible example of the city’s growing confidence, culture and regeneration – something which everyone in Dundee has bought into. The city has a new energy and vibrancy and this is a clear example of our bold ambition.”