Scapa Flow Museum

Client: Orkney Islands Council


HIAA - New life for existing buildings - Commendation - 2022

Galvanizers Association Galvanizing Awards - Shortlisted - 2022


Scapa Flow Museum had at its core the former Pumping Station, serving in wartimes to draw fuel from tankers, store it, then send it out to naval vessels.  It was made to be temporary and as a shield for amazing machines.  Deservedly, it and the surroundings share a Grade A listing.  What it could not do was show all of the Museum’s collections responsibly.


That has been resolved through adding an extension.  It is deliberately deferential in form, using mute materials with minimal openings.  Glazing is confined to the new entrance, the café and a frameless strip of glass that both connects and separates as it travels from ground, to soffit and back to ground along the full length of the building.


An atmospherically controlled black-box space now houses the main collection of artefacts and interpretative spaces.  The amazing machines have been relieved of the need for interpretation, being allowed to speak for themselves.  


The Museum reopened in September 2022, realised through a true collaboration of client and design teams. It would not have been possible, however, without the passionate and dedicated advocacy employed by Orkney Islands Council’s Cultural Services and Development and Infrastructure teams. 


Although the building was in use as a Museum, it was not suitably disposed to the task, providing an increasingly poor environment in which to display fragile artefacts.  Building the extension allows those friable pieces to be put on show safely and the Pumping Station’s rooms to be cleared of objects. That then allows the original building and its amazing machines to be displayed as faithfully to their intended uses as is practicable.   


The new building stands respectfully apart from the old, with the two linked by a narrow strip of glazing.  It also marks a transition point in material.  Where the existing building’s steelwork is painted, the new building’s steelwork and mechanical systems are fully galvanised and set against anthracite roof and wall cladding.  It is an inversion of the original building’s internal colour palate that works to dramatic effect. 


The juxtaposition of the original painted steel frame alongside the galvanised new steel work, with the clear separation between the two, allows both buildings to be read independently.  Although they work as one, the Pumping Station is now represented as an artefact in its own right.

Get in touch to see how we can help you

Contact us →