Rikard Svalastoga Kahn
The project seeks to provide a place for visitors to stay on the tidal island of Birsay, Mainland Orkney. The historic site,
containing the archaeological remains of both Pictish and Viking Settlements, is only accessible at the lowest tide via
a causeway footpath - This provides a sense of anticipation, longing and preciousness when making the journey to
the edge of the mainland and subsequently across to the site.
The proposal tries to amplify the existing natural experience of the site. A waiting building provides a space for the
user to wait for the tide to fall from the Mainland - allowing the user to shift from the daily cycle of everyday life into the
slightly out-of-sync tidal cycle that one must adhere to when staying on the island.
Once on the Island, the building
situates itself into the landscape, forming a new settlement interwoven within the existing archaeological remains.
In the same spirit that the Vikings sensitively expanded on the previous settlement, the proposal tries to integrate itself respectfully onto the site, whilst simultaneously imagining a new contemporary programme for the site.
The strategy of excavating down into the geology of the island allows for the proposal to form new spaces beneath the archaeological remains, as well as allowing the building to interact with the fluctuating tide - mirroring the relationship that the island as a whole has with the Mainland. The low-laying building sits ambiguously within the slope of the
island and the wider landscape, revealing themselves as much larger spaces only after being entered.
The spaces provided give the user an experience of longing and contemplation, while providing both solitude and an
experience of communal living on the island. The proposal provides a charged experience of inhabiting the remains
of the historic settlements while staying on the historic site.