Andreas Gorm Pontoppidan Müllertz

Scapa Flow, at the heart of the Orkney Islands both geographically and anthropologically, is a landlocked sea of
approximately 325 square kilometres with an average depth between thirty and forty meters. The sea is eerily quiet
and blank, containing few signs of use beyond the occasional large tanker or cruise ship.

Yet Scapa Flow is a striking example of a seascape entwined with the socio-cultural development within its shores.
Indeed, the historical record that this body of water holds goes far beyond the twentieth century. Over several millennia, Scapa Flow has been a pivotal setting for colonisation, invasion, expedition, trade and warfare.
Limited evidence of the unparalleled maritime history is tangible above the water line, where war memorials and
museums fail to capture the enormity and rawness of one of Britain’s richest assemblages of marine heritage.

Beneath the waves, the murky depths conceal a rich catalogue of pre-historic, medieval and twentieth-century heritage,
continuously eroding and generally inaccessible to the public. To enhance and distribute the knowledge of these
assets and the pivotal world events they recount, it may be necessary to alter the water line.

The sea room contained by the the four coastal walls of Scapa Flow has been variably connected to and cut off from
its surrounding waters throughout history. This proposal involves the continuation of a damming project initiated by
Winston Churchill in 1940, cutting off part of the body of water from the Atlantic Sea, allowing it to be drained to reveal a vast seabed of varied topography and sediment. Turning back geologic time, to when sea levels were much
lower, would reveal the scarred and littered seabed, turning it into a sublime and unfamiliar terrain of petrified and
deteriorating heritage.

This landscape, below sea level and contained by the surrounding hills, would be suitable for forestation. The timber from this forestry would in time provide the construction material to facilitate a network of viaducts for navigating the landscape at canopy-level, at the line of the previous sea datum. Small ships and boats could then sail through across the sea of trees, while wanderers across the landscape could seek refuge and higher vantage points within
the viaduct structures.

Further timber interventions at varying scales would contain new forestry communities as well as spaces for the
production and distribution of timber and maintenance of the shipwrecks. For the Orcadians, the landscape intervention
would serve as an economic springboard, providing opportunities for timber production, biological research and ecotourism.

©2019 by UNIT 17, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL