Sep 17, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

Innovative glazing system at showpiece Dundee waterfront development

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Designing and installing a VS-1 system with the sufficient structural strength capable of withstanding a significant wave load enabled GLASSOLUTIONS to secure a significant contract as part of the £80.11m construction of the new V&A Museum of Design, Dundee.


As the centrepiece of Dundee’s £1bn waterfront regeneration programme, the construction of V&A Dundee on a former reclaimed dock site located on the banks of the River Tay is due to open in the second half of 2018.

Designed by Japanese architect firm Kengo Kuma & Associates and described as a sculpture as well as a building, V&A Dundee comprises galleries, exhibitions and learning centres within the 8500m² facility. Fitting for an international centre of design, the state-of-the-art building will be a major cultural hub and tourist attraction, situated between the RRS Discovery and the Tay Road Bridge.

Commissioned by BAM Construction to design, manufacture and install the iconic building’s facade, GLASSOLUTIONS’ contracting team was required to provide a mullion-only curtain wall system as part of the multi-million-pound project, which is the UK’s only design museum outside London.

With a slatted, multi-layered external appearance, as well as its distinctive ‘prow’-shaped facade which juts out directly over the Tay, the complex geometry of V&A Dundee’s design presented a number of unique challenges for specifying and installing its component parts. GLASSOLUTIONS was tasked with creating a flush mullion profile which would provide uniformity and consistency across all of the building’s elevations, as well as being capable of withstanding the marine environment next to the River Tay.

As part of the striking new construction, GLASSOLUTIONS was awarded the contract to manufacture and install a building envelope comprising the contracting division’s flagship VS-1 curtain walling system; due to the building’s waterfront location, this was required to be capable of withstanding a considerable wave load, as high as 32,000 Pa.

Streamlined aesthetics were achieved using the VS-1 installation by installing a bespoke mullion with thicker sidewalls, allowing the fixings to be countersunk. This vertical-only structure means that the glass wall visually ‘floats’, presenting an entirely glazed surface that lets in as much daylight as possible to enhance the building’s visual appeal as well as the comfort of its occupants.

For the aspects of the building’s envelope fitted with the VS-1 system, GLASSOLUTIONS developed a bespoke mullion profile which could be utilised on all screens and would be able to accommodate the potential 32kN/m2 ‘wave load’.

A further challenge of the installation project was ensuring that the building’s complex external structure would be able to accommodate the specified glazing profile. Surveying all of the window and majority of screen openings ensured that GLASSOLUTIONS’ fully fabricated duplex stainless steel perimeter frames could be seamlessly installed, with no compromises required to create the architect’s desired vision.

Factoring in the building’s proximity to the River Tay, the internal paint finish of the VS-1 system was installed by GLASSOLUTIONS to a very high marine grade. All external works were anodised or of duplex stainless steel composition. To enable installation of the south wall structure incorporating GLASSOLUTIONS VS1 triangulated screens and punched windows, BAM constructed an in-filled cofferdam into the River Tay.

GLASSOLUTIONS incorporated a shadow box detail to each of the building’s terrace screens to conceal the parapet roof build-up. This allowed the blind and fixing brackets to be concealed from external view, while the soffit detail concealed them from the interior.

Says GLASSOLUTIONS’ Commercial Director, John Foster: “Faced with delivering the structural strength solution required, we were asked to provide a conventional mullion profile for the building envelope, fitting for the complex geometry of the building.

“We overcame unique challenges of completing the installation to the south facade in close proximity to the river and we are delighted that our flagship VS-1 curtain wall system proved to be the perfect solution to meet both the wave load and aesthetic expectations of the contractor and architect.

“GLASSOLUTIONS was honoured to have been involved in the construction of such an iconic building on the waterfront area of Dundee and we’re delighted that our installation has contributed to the impressive facade of what is now an iconic landmark along the River Tay.”

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