An Orcadian Orchard

Strategies for Sustainable Living (student category): highly commended

Architect: Connor Downie

This project explores the potential of an orchard landscape as a means to regenerating a coastal village on Orkney’s Bay of Firth and creating a community with a sustainable approach to living. Orchards rely on a symbiotic relationship between nature and people, offering lessons about local seasonal agriculture and preserving and restoring biodiversity. They look at acting seasonally and locally and supporting and restoring wildlife, reducing food miles and the unnecessary carbon cost of consuming of out of season crops. The proposal uses a pattern of walls and tree belts on a south-facing slope to break the predominant wind direction and collect thermal mass to extend the growing season of traditional and wall-trained apple trees. Project revives the low-tech agricultural practice to demonstrate the potential of seasonal agricultural in a northern climate and proposes a sustainable cider factory as a visitor attraction with a restaurant, bar and events space to create employment opportunities for a diverse community that works collectively to live sustainably.

The judges enjoyed the building design in this submission and were fascinated by the creation of the new landscape character proposed. The judges like that the project was in response to climate change and could provide an area to grow many various crops through sustainable planting and ensuring resilience.

Computer generated tall building with paved road leading to it and tress all around