Ross Munro         2020 

Arctic Council Assembly

With the potential for northern shipping routes to become open for greater periods of the year, there is a likelihood that the Arctic Region will see an increase in maritime activity as a result. Since much of this shipping will pass through the waters in the Northern Atlantic and North sea, this proposal suggests that Scotland could play a role in the managing and mediation of this resulting activity.

This project proposes that Orkney could take advantage as a ‘gateway to the Arctic’ and its position on the border of the two bodies of water likely to experience an increase in shipping and other activity, becoming the new home of the Arctic Council. The preeminent organisation which oversees the management of the Arctic region. This move would represent Scotland and the UK’s willingness to act as an impartial mediator for the region, as a ‘near-Arctic country’, assisting the council in the responsible management of the Arctic. Furthermore, due to the Orkney islands strategic location, likely becoming a vital stopping point for ships travelling along these newly open routes, moving the council to the islands would provide a greater level and sense of oversight.

The Council Headquarters consists of the principal assembly space, Secretariat offices, meeting/committee rooms and along with other facilities, such as a public cafe. The secretariat functions as the main workspace for the members of the Arctic Council and their staff. The Assembly functions as the principal place of interaction between the public and the council members, with the inclusion of a viewing gallery overlooking the main council chamber.

The building’s design is based upon two initial ideas. The first idea is that the’ secure’ secretariat facilities are lifted off of the ground floor, providing a clear and interrupted public route to the main council chamber, which is situated out on the water. The second is that the ground floor is the split into two parallel and overlapping paths, both leading to the council chamber. One is forming the main public route and access to the building the other is to be a secure space for the members, accessing all of the buildings assembly spaces. The combination of these two ideas has resulted in the concept of the building taking the form of a floating block or object over external and internal landscapes, with the building cores building the only components connecting the floating block to the ground.