Degree Show students plot city’s future

From airports to urban farms, ferry terminals to tower blocks, performance art to ‘prole’ tourism, exhibitors at this year’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Architecture Degree Show have explored the Dundee of the future.

As the city’s regeneration continues apace ahead of the V&A Dundee throwing open its doors this September, many of the graduating architects, artists and designers at this year’s Degree Show, which opens this weekend, have been examining the future direction of the city and their vision of how this development might be shaped.

Several Architecture students focused on a design project speculating about what a redevelopment of Dundee Airport might look like. The group, working alongside Civil Engineering students from the University, were supported by airport owners HIAL, who acted as a live client for the project.

“This was a conceptual project which saw the students explore how Dundee Airport might be expanded in future,” said Helen O’Connor, Head of Architecture and Urban Planning. “This is a very exciting time for Dundee and the cultural context of the city is about to be changed quite radically so it is vital that students are imagining the possible future directions for it.

“It is important that the University, which brings together some of the brightest and most creative minds in the country, is part of this ongoing transformation. Students on another unit have been looking at the city of Mons in Belgium. This was chosen deliberately as it is almost exactly the same size as Dundee and faces similar challenges so we are looking to learn from the lessons of elsewhere.”

Looking towards the V&A opening, Fine Art student David McLeish has incorporated karaoke, tacky souvenirs and postcards into a playful imagining of what a boom in tourism might mean for his hometown. His ‘Costa del Prole’ project also pays homage to childhood holidays to the likes of Blackpool and Majorca.

“This is a very exciting time for Dundee and my installation recontextualises Dundee as a package holiday destination in which Playa del Lochee, San Obswell and Playa del Ferry are resorts and Fife becomes part of the greater Taylaeric Islands,” he said.

“As a proud working-class Dundonian I’m passionate about democratising art. It should be fun, and it shouldn’t be elitist. We need to get more working-class people interested in art and for people in the art world not to have a sneering view of working-class stories and culture. My exhibition aims to bridge the two worlds and that’s why I’m reclaiming the term ‘prole’ as one of pride.”

A 37.5-hour karaoke marathon and a souvenir shop selling sticks of rock, t-shirts, keyrings and other items are among the elements of David’s exhibit.

Other exhibits focusing on how the future of Dundee might look include:


The Degree Show opens to the public on Saturday 19 May. Each year, the University of Dundee’s Crawford and Matthew buildings are transformed into Scotland’s largest exhibition space to showcase the work of over 300 students.

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