Orkney Gateway: Concept Solutions

Location: Orkney Isles, Scotland

Clients: Orkney Islands Council (OIC), Historic Environment Scotland (HES), Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE)

Type: Proposal for Feasibility Study

Status: Concept Design




Roots responded to a call out from OIC, HES & HIE to propose a range of concepts for a new gateway vehicle to the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Sites.

Entrants were challenged to put forward innovative ideas that would enhance the visitor of experience of unique archaeological sites on Orkney, make the most of the landscape, strengthen physical and cultural links with the rest of the Orkney, and address significant infrastructural issues that stem from increasing visitor numbers from Cruise Liners.

Roots explored 3 forms of gateway that could warrant further exploration through a feasibility study:

  1. Orkney Gateway Centre
  2. Orkney Gateway App
  3. Orkney Virtual Gateway


Orkney Gateway Centre

In response to the challenges of managing large coach-loads of tourists at congested attractions, Roots proposed a new Gateway Centre building.  The building was conceived as a destination in its own right that would provide much needed services to sustain tourism whilst also acting as a filter for large groups of tourists into smaller co-ordinated groups that explore the islands in a more manageable way.


Orkney Gateway App

The Orkney Gateway App was fundamentally intended to be a tool to encourage tourists to self-manage the congestion on the island by reacting to realtime information about waiting times at different locations.  

The software would be used to gain greater insight into the needs to tourists visiting Orkney whilst providing access to information and offers which would help to influence positive changes in visitor behaviour.  

The app would enhance visitor interactions with existing facilities on the island by functioning as a platform for e-ticket sales, audio guides of different tourist attractions and a link visitors to online resources.

The app had potential for the development of many beta functions including sharing and tracking information on wildlife sightings and e-commerce opportunities for local businesses.


Orkney Virtual Gateway

To address issues of accessing protected historic sites at all times of year the Virtual Gateway serves to use virtual reality and augmented reality technology to deliver a world-class visitor experience.

The VR facilities would allow visitors of all physical abilities to enjoy virtual experiences of archaeological sites from an off-site location.  This would create an all-weather attraction in its own right elsewhere on the islands that would help to ease congestion on key attractions and deliver a more immersive experience of Orkney's history. 

The AR software would be used to overlay information on historic sites; whether for tourists who want to look through a window into how Skara Brae would once have looked, or for researchers who are cataloguing and archiving historic artefacts in a way that is accessible for all to enjoy and engage with.


This proposal was shortlisted for interview but was not selected to be taken forward to feasibility stage.