Brock Carmichael to redevelop loneliest island on planet

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 an international competition led by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The island of Tristan da Cunha is within the world’s most remote inhabited island chain, with a population of just 268 people. It sits 2,400km from the coast of South Africa and 3,360km from South America. The islands are part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.


Its main island is named Tristan da Cunha, taken from the mountain range at its centre, and is the only inhabited island of the range with an area of 98 square km. It is surrounded by a number of other islands, uninhabited other than the personnel of a weather station on Gough Island.

Brock Carmichael Architects was asked to submit an entry that would outline how it would create a self-sufficient sustainable strategy for Tristan da Cunha. The project will be funded by the UK government.


The island sits in 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 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 locally sourced building materials consisting of basaltic rock, beach sand and seaweed.

Brock Carmichael Architects’ proposal includes the replacement 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.

Martin Watson, partner at Brock Carmichael Architects, said: “We are honoured to have been chosen as the winners out of 37 international entries for this unique competition.

“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 said its 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 a combination of gradual improvement of the islands building technology as well partial prefabrication of key elements that can be assembled in a community factory.

Alex Mitham, Tristan da Cunha administrator and head of government, added: “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.”

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 addition to Brock Carmichael Architects, the winning team also included Dr G Speller of the University of Surrey, Oval Partnership, Arup International Development, Multi-QS and MPA Engineering.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

As first I thought this was going to be about Pomona

By zebith

Not Mann Island?

By Jim McMillan

I remember he evacuation of its inhabitants years ago. Not sure now if it was because of a volcano?

By PPE Construction

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below