elise campbell
Gable-end studiesGable-end studyGable-end studiesProposal 1Proposal 2
Orkney Fieldwork: Gable-ends Series
Stromness, Orkney, Scotland 2008

Conversations with residents of Stromness revealed that the local community were concerned about the demise of the town’s high street. It was said that following the opening of a Tesco’s supermarket on the outskirts of the town, many of the ‘beautiful’ and independent shops on the main street had closed down. One local claimed that “the magic has gone”. Diversity and quality of the shopping experience in Stromness had, according to local people, sadly diminished.

Stromness’s story is not an isolated example; across the UK the face of the high street is changing. Inexorable demand has seen a switch to supermarkets and the credit crunch has resulted in hairdressers, beauticians, takeaways and bars replacing the traditional high street retailer.

An initial walk of the town centre revealed that regardless of the loss of shops, the historic core and its main street possess a unique charm of its own. The distinctive, almost archaic, narrow meandering street that follows the coastline, offers a rich sequence of views. The architecture comprises predominantly of the Scottish Vernacular and buildings are often constructed gable-end on to shelter from the sea. A network of closes also lead off the main street, offering an air of secretiveness.

The gable-end buildings at Stromness are representative of the relationship between people and the sea.