The first Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) to be built outside London towers over the River Tay in downtown Dundee in imitation of the breath-taking cliffs in more-rural Scotland locales. To imitate the craggy texture and slight slope of these natural formations, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma used several forms of concrete.
The design looks like two inverted pyramids, each three stories high, that have been grooved horizontally, similar to tined concrete pavement. The skeleton consists of layers of prefabricated concrete beams with smooth edges all the way around laid out in a gradual offset. These support 118,000 square feet of concrete facade in an almost-black matte finish that's the color of Scottish rock. Horizontal bands of the concrete are clad in reconstituted stone to allow for ventilation, let natural light shine through, and provide thermal mass.
The concrete contractor, U.K.-based Careys Civil Engineering, overcame two main challenges:
- Installing a cofferdam, an enclosure built within a body of water to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out, to build a section of the building in the river. The cofferdam was removed once the building's exterior was complete.
- Placing the external concrete reinforced walls, which curve both horizontally and vertically as they travel up the building. Accommodating this geometry required bespoke freeform formwork and shoring. PERI Formwork Sytems Inc.'s VARIO panels and VARIOKIT rafters provided a standard 98-inch-wide unit with variable depth and height. The formwork panels provided the flexibility to pour and place 1,277 bespoke panels.
The $94 million museum opened in September 2018.