One of the six finalist design proposals for the Victoria & Albert Museum in Dundee, Scotland is a mirrored inverted pyramid by New York-based REX. Inspired by the Scottish Bluebell, REX's design calls for a flower-shaped building that opens up to the sky at the top with an exterior clad in mirrored glass to reflect the surroundings. The design maximizes daylighting through skylights and due to its inverted shape can provide its own shading during the summer.
REX organized the art museum’s programs based on a layer cake concept, with each floor providing a different purpose. The bottom layer serves as the aarshalling area, the second is the civic layer for the city of Dundee, the third is the creative zone and provides offices for museum staff and museum facilities and finally the top layer is the gallery and exhibition space. The shape of the museum was determined by the size needed for each program area. As such the galleries and exhibition space need the most room, so they were placed on top and expanded.
The inverted pyramid shape provides a number of benefits to the museum in terms of sustainability. As the galleries and exhibition space are on the top floor they have the best access to natural daylighting streaming in from the skylights. During the summer, the inverted shape allows the building to self-shade, thus reducing cooling loads, while in the winter the low sun angle can still enter the sides of the building. The expanded horizontal rooftop also provides more space for rainwater and solar collection. Services, toilets, lifts, and HVAC systems are all centralized in the core of the building increasing efficiency and the small footprint allows for a larger public plaza space on the pier.
REX’s “Bluebell” concept will sit proudly on the pier out over the River Tay in the center of the city and with its mirrored facade the building will reflect its surroundings like a shining jewel. Compared to the other design concepts proposed by such leading firms like Snøhetta and Steven Holl, REX’s design is by far the most exciting and compelling.