Redesigning Dundee: How creativity is shaping the city

We look at how Dundee’s home-grown design scene has helped attract the V&A Museum and the impact that creativity is having on the Scottish city’s longstanding social deprivation issues

In October 2017, the Wall Street Journal published an article on its top places to visit in 2018. Among the list of up-and-coming travel destinations – which ranged from Montenegro to Madagascar – was the slightly less exotic choice of Dundee. The paper dubbed it ‘Scotland’s coolest city’, mainly thanks to the hotly anticipated opening of V&A Dundee this year. Over a decade in the making, the £80 million museum finally opened its doors in September. Not only does its opening mark the V&A’s first outpost beyond its London home, it is also Scotland’s first ever dedicated design museum.

Since the initial discussions between the V&A and the city took place in 2007 and the project’s official announcement in 2010, many people have been asking the question: why Dundee? On first impressions, it may seem like an odd choice of location for one of the world’s best-known cultural institutions to settle on. As Scotland’s fourth biggest city, with a population of roughly 150,000, in the past Dundee has been seen as the poorer cousin of its larger neighbouring cities such as Edinburgh. The decline of traditional manufacturing industries in the former east coast trading port has also led to serious social deprivation issues within the city, including poverty, unemployment, and drink and drug abuse. Last year, it even overtook Glasgow as the drugs death capital of Europe, according to research by the National Records of Scotland.