Cliffhanger in Dundee

Scot­land’s rich de­sign tra­di­tion is cel­e­brated in a dra­matic new mu­seum in the eastern river­side city.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - News - LUKE SLAT­TERY

In char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally damp Scot­tish weather, the new V&A Dundee looks from a dis­tance like a black­ened hulk beached on a river­bank or, more ro­man­ti­cally, an ark await­ing the great flood. In fact, Ja­panese ar­chi­tect Kengo Kuma had the cliffs of Scot­land’s north­east coast in mind when he de­signed the hotly an­tic­i­pated first out­post of Lon­don’s cel­e­brated Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum – and Scot­land’s first de­sign mu­seum.

His orig­i­nal de­sign po­si­tioned al­most the en­tire build­ing in the River Tay, and though this had to be scaled back to a prow-like 13 me­tres, the ef­fect is no less dra­matic.

The mu­seum is part of a £1-bil­lion re­vamp of Dundee’s dock­yard and wa­ter­front precinct, po­si­tion­ing the

city of 150,000, about an hour’s train ride north of Ed­in­burgh, on the itin­er­ar­ies of de­sign-fo­cused trav­ellers.

The open­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, Ocean

Lin­ers: Speed and Style, reimag­ines the golden age of ocean travel and cel­e­brates the city’s ship­build­ing tra­di­tion. Docked per­ma­nently be­side the mu­seum is the Dundee-built RRS Dis­cov­ery, its three masts in ver­ti­cal con­trast to Kuma’s

2,500 hor­i­zon­tal pre­cast pan­els.

But it’s the sin­gu­lar cre­ation of one of Scot­land’s favourite de­sign­ers, Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh, that’s the sen­ti­men­tal favourite. Af­ter spend­ing al­most 50 years in stor­age, Mack­in­tosh’s fa­mous Oak Room has been given new life in a project over­seen by V&A Dundee’s di­rec­tor Philip Long. Its 850 pieces have been re­stored and re­assem­bled to form the cen­tre­piece of the mu­seum’s Scot­tish De­sign Gal­leries.

De­signed in 1907 at the height of Mack­in­tosh’s ca­reer, the 13-me­tre dou­ble-height room is re­garded as a “lost” mas­ter­piece. “This is one of Mack­in­tosh’s great works,” says Long, “a work that had ef­fec­tively been lost and is now found in a new mu­seum by a great Ja­panese ar­chi­tect who was in­flu­enced by Mack­in­tosh as a young man – just as Mack­in­tosh him­self was in­flu­enced by Ja­panese de­sign.”

Fol­low­ing the de­struc­tion of the Mack­in­tosh-de­signed Glas­gow School of Art by fire in 2014 and again in June, the Oak Room has be­come a pow­er­ful trib­ute to Scot­land’s favourite son, and rea­son alone to visit Dundee. 1 River­side Es­planade, Dundee, vam.ac.uk

Cheese­fest + Fer­ment lives up to its name, with guest cheese­mak­ers and brew­ers, booze and cheese tast­ings, demos and more. It runs from 27-28 Oc­to­ber at Rymill Park, Ade­laide. Turn to page 82 for our fea­ture on fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Kris Lloyd. cheese­fest.com.au

V&A Dundee. Right: View over the River Tay from the mu­seum.

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