The Scapa Flow Museum, located on the Orkney Islands, has undergone an extension to better showcase its collection of artefacts and interpretative spaces. The former Pumping Station, which served as a wartime fuel depot, was not originally designed for museum display, and provided an increasingly poor environment for fragile artefacts. The addition of the extension has allowed these pieces to be displayed safely while also clearing the original building‘s rooms for the proper display of the amazing machines it houses.
The new extension is deliberately deferential in form, using mute materials with minimal openings. The glazing is limited to the new entrance, the café, and a frameless strip of glass that both connects and separates the two buildings. The extension‘s atmospherecontrolled black-box space now houses the main collection of artefacts.
The project was a true collaboration between the client and design teams, with the Orkney Islands Council‘s Cultural Services and Development, and Infrastructure teams providing passionate and dedicated advocacy to make the project possible. The new building stands respectfully apart from the old, with the two linked by a narrow strip of glazing. The original building‘s steelwork is painted, while the new building‘s steelwork and mechanical systems are fully galvanized and set against anthracite roof and wall cladding. This inversion of the original building‘s internal colour palate works to dramatic effect.
Internally, the project took a light touch, with corroded steelwork being repaired and repainted in Ministry of Defence Dark Camouflage Grey to express it internally against the white of the newly introduced roof and gable cladding. New electrics and lighting were installed throughout using galvanized conduit, differentiating the new from the old sections of conduit, which were left as found.
One noteworthy feature is the use of boom netting – an armour of interlocked steel rings – in the design of the extension. A small section of the netting was utilized to encourage a desired route through the building, while also maintaining separation and permeability in the channel between the two buildings.
The Scapa Flow Museum‘s extension has successfully accomplished its principal purpose of conserving the category A listed Pumping Station and its extensive collection of fragile wartime artifacts. The juxtaposition of the original painted steel frame alongside the galvanized 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 an artifact in its own right, and it was important to showcase it as such. The project has been successful in both colour and material terms due to the use of galvanized finishes throughout the introduced elements.
The Scapa Flow Museum‘s extension is a testament to the importance of careful consideration in the design and construction of museum spaces. By respecting the original building‘s history and design while adding new elements to better serve its purpose, the Museum has been transformed into a space that will undoubtedly inspire visitors for years to come.
(Content provided by LDN Architects)
Photos © Ross McEwen, Orkney Islands Council