Brock Carmichael

Sustainable redevelopment for the world’s most remote inhabited island

20 December 2016

Liverpool practice Brock Carmichael Architects has been awarded the contract to bring a socially sustainable redevelopment plan to the remote island of Tristan Da Cunha, as part of a national competition led by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Brock Carmichael Architects was asked to submit an entry that would outline how they would create a self-sufficient sustainable strategy for Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the World.

The project is particularly unique, as the island sits within the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. It has no airport, limited harbour facilities and internet connectivity, and can only be reached by a seven-day voyage on a commercial ship that sets out from Cape Town just eight times a year. In addition, it is prone to regular hurricane force winds and high seas that often prevent disembarkation and unloading, with the only local material resources consisting of basaltic rock, beach sand and seaweed.

Brock Carmichael Architects’ proposal includes the refurbishing of a number of government buildings, with consideration for improvements to residential buildings that would tackle issues relating to the damp maritime environment, and lack of insulation and central heating. It also featured proposals to reduce energy consumption, improve water management and achieve the island’s ambition to have at least 30-40% of its energy needs met by renewable means within the next five years. The local population would also need to be trained in any areas of expertise required to deliver these design proposals.

“We are delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the winners out of 37 international entries for this unique competition,” explains Martin Watson, Partner at Brock Carmichael Architects. “We would also like to pass on our thanks to the people of Tristan for selecting our team ahead of some very impressive submissions from around the World.”

Brock Carmichael Architects’ approach was informed by many years of research and experience in delivering practical, socially sustainable development projects – and is based on the notion of construction as a social process. It will involve implementing a prefabricated low cost, low tech housing system that can be assembled in pop up community factories.

Alex Mitham, Tristan da Cunha Administrator and Head of Government, adds: “On behalf of the community of Tristan da Cunha I would again like to thank everyone who participated in the competition, and particularly the five short-listed teams who further refined their proposals during the second, design development phase.
The Tristanians are very grateful for all the hard work involved and the different ways in which teams responded to the Brief and the unique set of challenges posed by delivering a project on the World’s remotest inhabited island.  The Island Council felt the Brock Carmichael team had developed a very strong set of proposals that demonstrated both a practical approach and an in-depth understanding of the issues.   We hope to be able to arrange for key members of the Brock Carmichael team to visit Tristan and meet the community in the near future as the first step in hopefully going onto realise the project”.

“We’re very much looking forward to forging a long-term partnership with the community to develop and deliver practical solutions that will improve the quality of life for future generations to come,” concludes Watson.

The work will begin with a three-month visit to the island sometime in mid-2017, in order to gain a greater insight into the islands buildings and infrastructure, while providing positive interventions and adaptations over a period of time. In addiotion to Brock Carmichael Architects, the winning team also included Dr G Speller, Oval Partnership, Arup Overseas Development and Consulting, Multi-QS and MPA Engineering.