Humans have hunted whales for thousands of years, from Neolithic hunter gatherers into the Arctic whaling period,
inspiring novels such as Moby Dick, to the industrial scale hunting of Antarctica in the 20th century and finally to the
highly controversial contemporary whaling of Japan and Iceland. The whale has always provided humans with an
abundance of resources and the global population of whales have rapidly declined because of this.
Even though most
whaling practices have stopped, many whale species are still fighting for survival as our impact on the world’s oceans
continues to cause negative effects.
Over 600 cetaceans strand on British shores each year, ranging in size from Porpoises to Fin Whales and over 30
species in between. Whilst some are stranded alive, most wash up dead where the causes of death range from ship
strikes, to fishing net entanglements, pollution and heavy metal poisoning. Once a valuable resource, these whales
are buried in landfill, towed out to sea or even exploded.
This project proposes an alternative solution, for these
whales to be used in the construction of an architecture in which each and every part of the whale is utilized, and
nothing goes to waste.
Leviathan is a Maritime University building, focusing on boat building and restoration, located in Stromness, Orkney.
The building is situated on the Lighthouse Commissioner’s Pier, an unoccupied pier in the heart of the Historic town.
The project aims to reawaken Stromness’s historic trades of boat building and restoration which lie at the brink of
extinction. Leviathan provides a cultural hub for both the community of Stromness to reconnect with its maritime
heritage but also for the trade of boat building to regrow, flourish and pass important skills onto future generations
This project will use the Design Realization report as a vehicle for testing and exploration, with the aim to produce
a strong argument that stranded whales can be seriously considered as a valuable source for architectural building
materials. Firstly, this project will rediscover the material qualities, characteristics and many uses of each and every
part of the whale, including bones, blubber, skin, meat, oil, blood, viscera, baleen, teeth, spermaceti and ambergris.
Through rigorous physical material testing, this project will explore how these raw materials can be processed into
building components and considered together as an architectural proposal. The secondary aim of this project is
to develop an architectural language or ‘whale tectonic’ that can be brought to future development projects, with
Leviathan acting as the inception project for this building typology.