Delivering daylight to Dundee's iconic V&A Museum

In 2011 I was contacted by the then senior lighting designer in ARUP to see if Solatube sun pipes were able to solve a major design challenge in a key new building - The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in Dundee. 

As the first-ever dedicated design museum in Scotland and the only other V&A museum anywhere in the world outside London, V&A Dundee provides a place of inspiration, discovery and learning through its mission to enrich lives through design.

One of the most significant challenges encountered with V&A Dundee’s ground-breaking design was how to deliver natural light to the main lobby: a double-height space with uncommon angular wall areas and small, horizontal, slot-like windows partly screened by the precast panels.

In addition, the design required that the Solatube Daylighting Systems create the impression of “floating” between the roof and an open mesh layer below the roof.


SOLUTION: Senior lighting designers from ARUP and Matthew Rice (myself) at Solatube Scotland worked together to design the daylighting in the main area of the museum.  A total of sixty 330DS-O Solatube Daylighting Systems were used to enrich the building with natural light, allowing visitors to appreciate the changing weather conditions outside, and to balance natural light with the artificial lighting in the central areas.

To achieve the “floating” look, the 2.5 metre-long reflective extension tubes used to pipe in the daylight were externally laminated in a specified shade of grey to match the underside of the roof structure, thus making the tubing virtually invisible, so the daylight appeared to come from “hovering” diffusers several metres below the roof.

Solatube Daylight Dimmers were also fitted to each Solatube system to allow for complete control of daylighting for different exhibitions and full integration with V&A Dundee’s artificial lighting system.

RESULTS: “One of the areas that needed good levels of natural light is the main double height foyer,” said Laura Phillips, associate director, Lighting ARUP. “A series of Solatube Daylighting Systems allows everyone to enjoy the benefits of the natural light coming in from above.”

“It’s one of the spaces that people will really be encouraged to spend time in and to shop and enjoy the cafes while enjoying the quality daylighting from the Solatube systems,” added Phillips.

An international centre of design, V&A Dundee now offers a welcoming and inspiring naturally lit space for everyone to visit, enjoy and socialise in.

Throughout the whole of Scotland, Solatube Scotland is the recognised distributor and installer of Solatube sun tunnels, or light pipes.

If you are interested in bringing natural light into your home, why not contact us at; 07778 283 427 to find out whether a Solatube sun pipe can help you. Typically, a fully installed system might cost anywhere between £900 – £1,200; that’s supplied, professionally installed and includes the VAT.

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