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Evolving Identities - Restoring the Heart of Stromness

Part 2 Project 2022
Christopher Bennett
University of Nottingham | UK
As the world changes place identity is required to be transformative, revealing, and radical - evolving and propelling alongside people and culture. Place identity maintains the authenticity of place, whilst revealing the world to the people, and the people to themselves. Architecture, therefore, can evolve the identity of a place to create spaces that are both meaningful and sustainable.

The remoteness of Orkney has led to a distinct architectural language in Stromness, yet the historic pierheads have lost their place as the heart of the community, becoming a fragmented, transitional space. They require a propelling architecture - a consideration of historic context while evolving the architecture to become more performative and sustainable. Proposing a necklace of buildings and public squares, the scheme reconnects the pierheads with the historic town. As the existing identity intensifies, the strength of the abstraction and reinterpretation subtly varies.

The visitor centre establishes a gateway into Stromness while the viewing tower draws visitors towards the market and community centre. Community squares provide spaces to dwell and establish a dialogue between the buildings, while familiar crow-stepped gables and moments of red paint evoke the existing vernacular. Traditional stone with slobbered lime is combined with perforated timber and exposed concrete lintels to evolve the material language.

Christopher Bennett

Tim Collett
Graham Mateer
Kate Nicklin
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