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Kengo Kuma’s stunning V&A Dundee opens to the public this weekend

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Part ship, part spaceship, part mountain

V&A Dundee museum exterior with concrete panels Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee

Kengo Kuma, the inventive Japanese architect behind the new National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has just unveiled another major project, this time in Dundee, Scotland. The V&A Dundee, the Scottish outpost of London’s Victoria and Albert art and design museum, will open its doors on the banks of the River Tay this weekend, and like most other Kuma designs, it’s a striking example of what humble materials can achieve.

Exterior of museum at dusk Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee

Kuma designed the museum with stratified layers of concrete—2,500 panels to be exact—that look like wooden planks from afar. The building seems to rise out of the water like a ship (or spaceship), though its textured exterior is meant to evoke Scotland’s rugged coastline.

Close up shot of concrete panels Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee

“I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature,” Kuma told Dezeen. “I was inspired by the cliffs of northeastern Scotland–it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape.”

Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee

The building, which will house a labyrinth of galleries dedicated to Scottish design (including a reconstruction of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room from the Ingram Street tearooms), was four years late and double the original estimated price at roughly $105 million.

Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee
Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room has been meticulously restored, conserved and reconstructed through a partnership between V&A Dundee, Glasgow Museums and Dundee City Council.
Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee
Hufton+Crow courtesy of V&A Dundee

V&A Dundee opens Saturday, September 15.