How Arup met the lighting challenge at the V&A Dundee

THE V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, has become the only V&A to open outside of London.

And the task of lighting Kengo Kuma’s remarkable structure on the banks of the Tay fell to Arup.

The challenge was that the striking museum is a geometrically complex three storey building with an upper level of open gallery spaces cantilevering off two lower levels of workshop and office spaces. First, the team had to consider the structure.

V&A Dundee is, after all, a significant departure from ordinary engineer practice, says Arup, and the ambitious design gave the team with an opportunity to find new and innovative ways of working.

To make the museum a possibility, advanced analysis tools were central to the building’s success.

Lighting was an integral part of the building’s design. Arup’s lighting team provided the design for internal, facade and external areas including galleries, foyer spaces and the lighting design for the Scottish Design Galleries.

Dan Clipsom, Arup Structural Engineer, told Lux: ‘No is not an answer. We like to sit down and look at things that seem impossible and start thinking about how we might achieve them.’

 The building functions in a similar way to a shell in that it is a continuous, interconnected structure. The roof, walls and flooring all work together to make the building stable. Instead of seeing the twists and folds of the walls as a problem, the engineers considered how these complexities could help strengthen the building, in the same way origami relies on paper becoming more rigid when folded.

A clay model of Jaguar's I-PACE electric car, showing the design process. Jaguar's Director of Design, Ian Callum, is Scottish.

To understand what impact these details would have on the overall structure, 3D and analysis models were vital. An integrated 3D model of the entire building was created as a coordination tool, meaning the engineers and contractors involved in the construction could all study a miniature version of what they were about to create.

‘You can get only so far with intuition’, says Clipsom. ‘It gets you to the point where you think the structure will work and then you dive into the analysis and start playing with it. Having an analysis model tells you where the forces are going. When there were areas that were overloaded, we had to think about where to strengthen it.’

An interior from the celebrated Ingram Street Tearooms by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was rebuilt inside the V&A Dundee.

The finished structure remains true to the extraordinary design that won the competition. The shape is slightly steeper and less splayed than the original concept, but despite the minor alterations, the largest overhang sees the roof extend an impressive 19.8 metres beyond the footprint of the museum.

The building consists of two separate parts joined at the upper floor, where huge steel beams connect the exterior walls to two cores, providing support. The largest tension in a single beam is the equivalent of supporting around 40 double decker buses.

V&A Dundee is a significant departure from ordinary engineer practice, says Arup, and the ambitious design gave the team with an opportunity to find new and innovative ways of working.

 While the lower floor is split in two, separating staff quarters from the public areas, the upper floor provides huge, uninterrupted gallery spaces. The separation of the structure at the lower levels allows for an outside walkway to cut through the middle of the building, an archway joining the river to the city.

Lighting also provides an integral part of the building’s design. The lighting team provided the design for internal, facade and external areas including galleries, foyer spaces and the lighting design for the Scottish Design Galleries.

The lighting in the galleries is sensitively integrated to provide comfortably lit spaces that enhance the architecture.

The lighting in the galleries is sensitively integrated to provide comfortably list spaces that enhance the architecture.

Above all careful use of daylight achieves an open and naturally lit environment without compromising sensitive exhibits.

V&A Dundee sits at the centre of the £1 billion maritime regeneration of Dundee City Waterfront, which stretches 8km along the River Tay and its estuary over an area of 240 hectares, in a 30-year development that began in 2001.

Arup says the careful use of daylight achieves an open and naturally lit environment without compromising sensitive exhibits.

It’s an international centre for design, a place of inspiration, discovery and learning. The museum features permanent galleries of Scottish design, as well as an international programme of changing exhibitions, showcasing the best of design from around the world.

Martin Surridge, Arup Project Director, said: ‘Arup is immensely proud to have been part of creating this new Scottish landmark in Dundee. We were fortunate to work with a great client and team of professionals to help bring this vision to life. Advances in digital technologies are opening up new opportunities for the built environment and this project created new ways in thinking to push the way we create and design our future projects.’

 

  • Laura Phillips, associate director of lighting at Arup, will give an exclusive presentation on the V&A Dundee project at 12pm on Wednesday 14 November 2018 at the Lighting for Museums and Galleries conference at LuxLive 2018. Other projects to be discussed include the relighting of the Royal Academy in London and the newly-opened Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre in Kuwait. The LuxLive 2018 exhibition takes place on Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018. For the full programme, click HERE.

All pics copyright Hufton+Crow

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