Scenario Games
Orkney Islands (UK)

Responsible: Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), School of Landscape Architecture // Lisa Mackenzie, Ross McLean
Case study area: Orkney Islands
Funding: Erasmus Intensive Programme (LLP).
Team: Marieke Timmermans, Thomas Oles, Chris Rankin, Karin Helms, Thierry Kandjee, Martin Prominski, Verena Butt, Maria Goula, Martí Franch Batllori, Victor Tenez.

2010_EMiLA_Orkney_33The Summer School focused on the culturally rich landscapes of Orkney in Scotland. Orkney is a UNESCO world heritage site. Based on this designation, the goal was to ascertain the appropriate focus, scale and language of intervention. In this project the landscape was ‘revealed’ to promote and communicate issues related to the archaeological, coastal/ sea-scape and hinterland resources of the Islands.


Students worked in groups of 5 with one student from each university/school of the consortium. Teachers from each school supported the project discussions and addressed students as well as local stakeholders. Local stakeholders acted as ‘advisors’ to bring a rich and balanced field of specialist expertise. The Local Authority, The Pier Art Centre and Academics from the University of the Highlands and Islands supported the creation of the brief and helped to define thematic lines of enquiry. Invited guests gave lectures and tutorials.


Methodology: Scenario Planning

Scenario games are a strategic planning method to make flexible long-term plans by providing a framework for generating new concepts, ideas and innovative projects through the simulation of the conditions in which these projects can be initiated and developed. This refutes an objective to assert, stabilise or control landscape, but more one of searching, disclosing and engendering new sets of possibility, where the games seek to capture the nature of potential transformation through the productive and strategic process of speculative scenarios. Scenarios are narratives of future possibilities and alternative realities.

Scenario games act as an interlinking event in the overall planning process between; stages in the development of proposals; and people who can bring perspective to the process. The games involve a speculative and generative basis that puts into effect complex sets of relationships that remain to be more fully realised, where ideas that emerge can be refined further in the overall planning process. The games are designed as a tool for decision making, facilitating rapid visual documentation of project ideas, while prompting design teams to explore a number of alternative responses. In effect it catalyses connectible experimentations with the landscape, to test out future projects and their spatial implications.

‘the computer can work in time, simulating and visualising dynamic processes of change under specific conditions, modelling complex ecological and cultural flows in relation to design interventions’ (Weller 2006 p83).


See results on the project’s website here