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Consulting Engineers

Is it a building, or a ship about to enter the water?

Photo by Kurtis Garbutt

Architect Kengo Kuma was in Dundee last week to inspect the V&A building he designed eight years ago.

It’s an incredibly creative project, both structurally and visually, with no straight external walls. The design museum is meant to look like a ship and with it being right on the banks of the Tay, it looks like it could be about to set sail.

Kuma won an international competition to design this landmark building, and he is also designing the stadium for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Creating this building from Kuma’s design will clearly have been a challenge, structurally, with 2,500 pre-cast rough stone panels hung on the curved concrete walls of the museum.

The three storey building is 60 feet tall (18 metres) at its highest point and the sea had to be held back to allow construction to be completed. They created a dam, drained out the sea, excavated down to create the building, and then let the sea back in.

The inspiration for the design came from the sea cliffs of Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland, a little further north than Dundee.

I wanted to tell you about this building, as Scottish news often doesn’t get reported further south and this is a groundbreaking project, using 21st century engineering techniques. I’ll certainly be interested to visit it once it opens in mid-September.

Mike Galloway, the Executive Director of Dundee City Council says he doesn’t think they’d have been able to build this even ten years ago, and I suspect he’s right, due to the precision engineering involved.

It’s a very good example of how my work and your work, in the fields of engineering, architecture and construction, can make a massive impact.

Kengo Kuma talks about how he imagines this building becoming a new “living room” for Dundee, where people from the city can congregate and socialise. And it will also connect the city centre with the waterfront.

The new V&A will be good for tourism too, as it’s Scotland’s first design museum and the only V&A outside London. And it’s already bringing investment to the city.

If you want to see more, there’s a good video on the V&A website:

And if you need help with the structural element of a project you’re working on, please do get in touch with me or a member of my team at Super Structure Associates.

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