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V&A beached by cost worries

THE architect of Dundee's new V&A museum has approved the city's proposal to move the building 100 metres inland from its original site in the River Tay, seen as essential to ensuring that the £45 million building comes in on time and on budget.

An artist's impression of the V&A in the site originally planned for it
An artist's impression of the V&A in the site originally planned for it

Dundee's director of city development, Mike Galloway, said that the final details of the revised plan – which will use ornamental pools to preserve the original water-surrounded concept – were signed off by the architect, Kengo Kuma, on a visit to Edinburgh last week. The revised plan is to be submitted to Dundee City Council for planning permission shortly.

Although the move was first presented as "strengthening the connection between the river and the city centre", it has since emerged that the risk of costs over-runs incurred by building over water determined the move.

Although the Tay is shallow, the "risk register matrix" common to all major projects continually showed that the use of construction platforms and barges raised the likelihood of time delays, which would push up the price of the project. "We are determined to bring this in on time and on budget" Galloway said.

"We were noticing that the risks associated with building out in the river were continually showing as red [on a traffic light system]. We tried to find ways of mitigating it, but there was still a cost risk, so we asked the design team to look at how moving building closer to land would affect that.

"They found that moving the building 80%-90% on land, with the 'prow' sticking out over the water, brings that risk right down."

Galloway also explained that the original plan, which would have seen the building bordered by mud flats at low tide, was located off the river bank because of the expectation that securing the right to demolish the Olympia swimming pool would hold back the V&A project.

However, Dundee council has now obtained an agreement that allows for early demolition of the pool, along with other 1970s legacy buildings, as part of the £1 billion waterfront renewal scheme.

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Hobbies and general interest

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